Tale Of The Tape: Tampa Bay Buccaneers At Detroit Lions
- QuarterbackThe Bucs finally joined the ranks of the victorious when they defeated the beleaguered Dolphins in their Week 10 Monday night game, and that matchup showed that Mike Glennon can do a decent job if he gets time from his offensive line. Glennon followed up with an even better performance against the Falcons, and he could cause problems for the Lions.Matthew Stafford is at a point where he can step up and throw his name among the elite quarterbacks in the game with a great second half and a decent run in the playoffs. Stafford has always had the physical tools to be among the best and he has dropped hints that he understands what it takes to win. Now he must do it consistently.
- OffenseThe Bucs have to go with Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey at the running back position. Rainey looks to have a bit of explosion but it doesn’t seem likely he will hurt the Lions very much. Vincent Jackson is an explosive wideout who will have a chance to impose his will on the Detroit defensive backs. Tight end Timothy Wright has shown some ability to catch passes in the red zone.The Lions present major matchup problems for every opponent because of Calvin Johnson’s size, strength and ability to run by tacklers. Once he gets going early in the game, it’s unlikely he will get stopped even though he is competing with pain in his knee. Reggie Bush has exceeded expectations this year, but he does not go all-out every week.
- DefenseThe Bucs have shown excellent effort on the defensive side of the ball all season, and they have been quite good against the run. Linebacker Lavonte David runs well sideline to sideline and he has been the team’s best tackler and sacker. Darrelle Revis remains a lock-down corner who can still be a game-changer if he gets a chance to make an impact play in the fourth quarter.The Lions are going to try to intimidate opponents off the bat with their ability to put pressure on the quarterback. When Glennon looks across the line of scrimmage and has to look at Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh, he knows he will be in a battle for survival. Middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch is one of the most underrated tacklers in the league. Glover Quin can be a playmaker in the secondary.
- Special TeamsThe Bucs are fairly ordinary on special teams, and you have to question punter Michael Koenen’s ability to get the ball deep. He doesn’t have the leg that many punters in the NFL have. Rian Lindell is an accurate placekicker, but he is rarely asked to make clutch kicks.The Lions are somewhat vulnerable in their punt and kickoff coverage, but Micheal Spurlock is good enough to take advantage of any weaknesses in coverage to bust a decent return. David Akers still has a powerful leg, but he has not been a consistent placekicker for years.
The Lions are in a position to control their own fate in the NFC North, and if they want to secure the NFC North title, they have to dispose of the Bucs at home and they can’t afford any slip-ups. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor