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5 things to watch: Lions vs. Buccaneers

The Detroit Lions are back at Ford Field and hosting an explosive Tampa Bay team that ranks third in total offense and third in scoring.

Detroit will attempt to slow down the high-scoring Bucs and break a six-game losing streak in the process. The Buccaneers are looking to win their fourth straight.

Here's what to watch out for in today's matchup:


The Bucs enter today's contest with the No. 1 run defense in the NFL, allowing just 75.5 yards per game on average.

Tampa Bay has a terrific front seven on defense, led by Shaq Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea, Jason Pierre-Paul, William Gholston, Lavonte David and Devin White.

The Bucs have allowed 100 yards rushing as a team just three times in 13 games this season.

Running back Bo Scarbrough has led Detroit's rushing attack the last four weeks and has averaged 75 rushing yards per game. In Weeks 11-14, Scarbrough was one of four running backs in the NFL to rush for at least 300 yards and a touchdown. The others were Derrick Henry (308, 3), Nick Chubb (362, 1) and Joe Mixon (355, 3).

Scarbrough missed practice time this week with a rib injury, and is listed as questionable for today's matchup.

If Scarbrough can't go, can the Lions continue to be productive running the football today against a Bucs team who's been stingy all year to opposing running backs?


It's been a little bit of feast or famine for Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston in his first season in Bruce Arians' offense. Winston's touchdown percentage of 5.1 percent is the highest of his career, but so is his interception percentage of 4.5. The fifth-year quarterback has 26 touchdowns and 23 interceptions on the year.

The Lions' five interceptions all year are tied for the fewest in the NFL, but Winston isn't afraid to make any throw, and he'll likely give Detroit's pass defenders an opportunity or two to get their hands on the ball. Winston's thrown multiple interceptions in seven games this season.


The Vikings' defense gave Lions rookie quarterback David Blough fits last week in Minnesota. Blough threw for 205 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in Detroit's 20-7 loss. He had a 60.9 passer rating.

While running against the Bucs' defense has been tough sledding all year, teams have had success throwing the ball. The 278.8 passing yards per game allowed by the Bucs is the second most in the NFL. Part of that can be attributed to their terrific run defense, obviously, but teams have had success throwing the ball down the field against them.

First and foremost, the Lions will have to be good upfront blocking the pass game. The Bucs rush five players often, and that sets up a lot of one-on-one matchups upfront. Barrett leads the league with 15.5 sacks on the year.

If Detroit does a good job blocking the pass rush, there will be opportunities for Blough to make plays down the field in the passing game.


Both these teams will be shorthanded at receiver today. The Bucs will be without All-Pro Mike Evans due to a hamstring injury. Detroit's playing its first contest without Marvin Jones Jr., who was placed on IR Tuesday with an ankle injury. That's a combined 129 receptions, 1,956 yards and 17 touchdowns worth of production off the field today.

Chris Lacy has been active for the Lions the last couple weeks. He's expected to play a bigger role on offense filling in for Jones. Lacy's mostly played on special teams the last couple weeks.

The team also signed rookie Travis Fulgham from the practice squad to the active roster. He's spent the season on the practice squad, but could get an opportunity to play a factor on offense for the Lions today.

The Bucs will no-doubt have their eye on Kenny Golladay, as he could see double teams and bracket coverage all day. The Lions will need someone else from that receiver corps to step up and keep the Bucs' defense honest.


For those at Ford Field today and those tuning in at home, expect to see big plays in the passing game on both sides. The Bucs are second in the NFL this year in both 20-plus-yard completions (57) and completions of 40-plus yards (9). Detroit ranks fourth and seventh, respectively, in those categories.

On the flip side, both the Lions and Bucs rank in the bottom 10 on defense in 20-plus-yard and 40-plus-yard passes allowed.

These are two teams that consistently take their shots down the field, so don't expect anything different today.

"They're explosive, and we know that," Blough said of the Bucs. "We trust our guys to put us in a good position on offense, and the offense will be ready to do our part too. I feel like we let our defense down last week. We'll be ready to go that's for sure."

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