Don’t look now but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in first place in the NFC South. Going into the fourth week of the season, the Buccaneers look to have turned a corner on the offensive side of the ball. Last week in Denver, Tom Brady passed for 297 yards and three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Eight different receivers had a catch and Mike Evans had two of the three touchdowns. This week, the Buccaneers are back at home and welcome the Los Angeles Chargers into Raymond James Stadium.
Breaking Down The Chargers
The Chargers come into this week’s game with a 1-2 record but could easily be 2-1. In Week two, the Chargers lost a close game in overtime to the defending Super Bowl Champions, Kansas City Chiefs. They come into this week missing key players like Derwin James, Tyrod Taylor, Melvin Ingram III, and Chris Harris Jr. Even with all the injuries, the team comes into this game with a good pass rush and the ability to run the ball. Austin Ekeler had his best game against the Chiefs and racked up 93 yards rushing and 55 yards receiving. Ekeler has 47 carries and 236 yards rushing with one touchdown. Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert has started the last few weeks due to a freak injury to Tyrod Taylor. In week two, Taylor was given an injection for a rib issue he was dealing with and the team physician punctured his lung.
On the defensive side of the ball the Chargers have been hit hard with injury. Nick Bosa and Rayshawn Jenkins have been limited this week in practice. If Bosa can’t go on Sunday, the Chargers will be without one of the leagues best pass rushers. The team will have to depend on Linval Joseph and Denzel Perryman to create some pass rush if Bosa can’t play. The defense will be tested by Brady and the Buccaneers offensive weapons.
How The Game Plays Out
Coming into the season all the talk was about the Bucs offense and the weapons that Brady would have. I think a lot of people forgot how good the Buccaneers defense was the last six games of 2019. Coming into this week, the defense has become the strong point of the team. Last week in Denver, the defense had six sacks including one for a safety and two interceptions. This week could be a repeat of that performance. Even with Herbert playing well for a rookie, Todd Bowles may present some exotic looks that confuse Herbert and the Chargers offense. The Bucs defense ranks third in the league against the run so it will be hard for Ekeler to find room to run the ball.
The injuries for the Chargers put them in a position where stopping Tampa Bay’s offense will be a tall task. The Buccaneers will be without Chris Godwin for this game, but will have a healthy Mike Evans. As the season has progressed, Rob Gronkowski has been more involved in the offense and will present problems for the Chargers in the middle of the field. This would be a good week for the Bucs to get the run game going as the Chargers 11th ranked rush defense.
The Bucs’ offensive weapons have another week under their belts and will look even better. They will prove to be to much for the Chargers defense and will take another step to becoming the dominant offense that everyone expects them to be. The defense will continue to display its ability to stop the run and harass the passer. Bucs win in a lop-sided game.