Lions-Buccaneers Final Thoughts: Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston offers chances for interceptions; pick stats and Random Thoughts – Bucs' run defense tough to crack; Ndamukong Suh speaks; Kenny Golladay works late, Lions' sack stats and sticking with my pick:
Winston is an equal opportunity quarterback when it comes to touchdown passes and interceptions. He's thrown a lot of both in his five-year career, but never at the rate of this season.
With 26 TD passes, Winston is only two short of his career high of 28, set in 2016. And with a league-leading 23 interceptions, Winston already has passed his previous high of 18, also set in 2016.
The Lions' can expect Winston to come out throwing today, as he has all season – and to keep throwing, whether he connects for touchdowns or interceptions.
"They've got a strong-armed quarterback who's willing to throw the ball," said Lions safety Tracy Walker. "He throws interceptions because he's not scared to throw the ball.
"He's coming here with a game plan to air it out and put up the same points they've been putting up."
Interceptions have been hard to come by for the Lions in the last two seasons. They have five this year, tied with the Cowboys for the league low, and only seven last year, tied for second fewest in the league.
With Winston averaging almost two picks a game, there should be an opportunity to add to their total.
"That number's all good and dandy," Walker said. "At the end of the day, we have to go out and execute our plays and make those plays.
"Jameis is going to study us and not throw those interceptions. Likewise, we're going to try and make them."
Stat to note: According to the official game books, Winston's 23 interceptions have come from 80 passes defensed. That's one interception for every 3.8 passes defensed. The Lions' five interceptions have come from 61 passes defensed – a ratio of one out of 12.2.
Bottom line: The Lions haven't maximized opportunities to get picks.
Up front: My primary thought today is that the Lions have to control three players on Tampa Bay's front seven for the offense to move the ball with any consistency.
The three: Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who leads the NFL with 15.5 sacks, 347-pound Vita Vea, a nearly immovable force at nose tackle; and Ndamukong Suh, who still can make an occasional impact play.
The Lions had rushing games of 121, 175 and 105 yards before being held to 70 by the Vikings last week. The Bucs, who have allowed a league low 75.5 yards per game, have held opponents to 57, 49 and 66 yards rushing in winning their last three games.
Not an easy matchup for the Lions, especially with injuries on the offensive line.
Suh speaks: No surprise that he expressed warm thoughts and a plan to get to the quarterback in a midweek interview with the Tampa media.
"I love the city of Detroit – simple as that," Suh said.
"We feel as a front seven, and knowing the secondary will do its job, we'll get after any quarterback."
Golladay, working late: Wide receiver Kenny Golladay plays hard to the finish, which is why five of his 10 touchdown catches have come in the fourth quarter. That includes a catch on fourth and 10 for the Lions' only score in last week's 20-7 loss to the Vikings.
The other four were the game winner against the Chargers; a go-ahead catch with 2:20 left in the loss to the Chiefs; a catch that extended the lead to 12 points in an eventual 31-26 win over the Giants and a catch with 6:03 left that got the Lions within reach in a 20-13 loss to the Bears.
Sack stats: The Lions had three sacks and two interceptions the last time they faced Winston in Week 14 of 2017, but they've had trouble generating pressure this year. They've been limited to one sack in four of the last six games. The exceptions were five sacks in the first meeting with the Bears and three against the Redskins and rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr.
Sticking with my pick: Not having Mike Evans leaves the Bucs without one of the league's top receivers. Not having Marvin Jones Jr. leaves the Lions without a steady complement to Golladay and a tough competitor. It's one more thing the Lions have to overcome to end their losing streak. Home field advantage should pay off – finally.
Prediction: Lions 19, Bucs 17.