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Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) and quarterback Jameis Winston (3) celebrate following the team's 20-14 win over the Carolina Panthers following an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on equally struggling Tennessee Titans

In 2015, both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans thought they were drafting the future with their respective No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks. Flash forward to 2019, and neither Jameis Winston nor Marcus Mariota has found his footing in the NFL. Both the Buccaneers and the Titans have losing records with fans from both sides calling on front offices to draft new quarterbacks. The Titans are even starting Ryan Tannehill under center in favor of Mariota.

There is no telling what each team will do when the 2020 NFL Draft rolls around. But this weekend, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans will each try to save their sinking-ship seasons.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In year one of Bruce Arians, the Bucs are 2-4. While a complete transformation would have been Herculean, Arians’ beginning is shaping up to be a regular season in Tampa Bay. The team’s only wins thus far came against an 0-2 (at the time) Panthers and a shock 55-40 win over the Rams. Since then, the Panthers have turned a corner. They’ve gone 4-0 since and beat the Bucs Oct. 13.

Winston threw five interceptions and lost a fumble during that game. His TD:INT ratio now sits at a paltry 12:10 on the season. There’s no doubt the controversial quarterback needs to finish strong to retain his role as “the guy” in Tampa. Unfortunately for Winston, “the guy” in his receiving corps is not living up to his Pro Bowl billing.

Mike Evans has 26 catches for less than 500 yards this season. Instead, Chris Godwin is the Bucs’ leading WR, breaking out for six touchdowns. OJ Howard, the team’s first-round pick in 2017, was the subject of trade rumors that have since been shut down. The tight end has yet to score a touchdown this season despite being the team’s most-used player at the position.

On the defense, LB duo Shaquil Barrett and Lavonte David are head and shoulders above the rest of the group. Barrett’s nine sacks contribute to the team total of 13. The next-highest contributor to the category has two. David has a team-high 41 tackles, eclipsing the next two highest contributors by 10 season tackles.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, once again, have dug themselves into an early hole. A win over the Tennessee Titans could change the course of the season. But can they do it?

Tennessee Titans

The answer is a definite maybe. Though Vegas puts the home team Titans up -2.5, everything has to come together to get the win.

Ryan Tannehill seems to have made strides since his departure from Miami. In last week’s win over the LA Chargers, Tannehill had a career-best completion percentage of 79.3. This weekend, he will face Tampa Bay’s league-worst passing defense. Mariota was the team’s scout team quarterback this week, per a report.

One of the most intriguing battles of the weekend will be how the Titans’ defense performs against a high-scoring offense. Yep, even though the Buccaneers do things like lose the ball seven times in a game, they still find a way to put up points, scoring an average of 28.8 per game.

Tennessee has not allowed a team to put up more than 20 this season, which means that four times this season, the team has failed to put up more than 20 points of its own. In two of its three wins, Tennessee only posted 23 and 24 points. Tannehill  may be the option right now, but he must perform Sunday. Tampa Bay holds the No. 1 run defense in the country, forcing the Titans to fall back on the passing game.

A win will put the team back at .500.

How to Watch

Catch this matchup Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX.

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