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O'HARA'S WEEK 6 PREVIEW: Lions expecting Buccaneers' best coming off bye

Life has changed in the last couple of years for Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow and his teammates on the offensive line.

Their reputation and performance as one of the NFL's top offensive lines precedes them wherever they play.

It's another battle in the trenches for the Lions in Sunday's road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ragnow can expect them to do their own concoction of stunts and fronts and other maneuvers to try to stop the Lions' running game and harass quarterback Jared Goff.

"We always kind of expect that for the offensive line for the last couple of years now," Ragnow said.

"We realize that people see us as a better group up front. They're going to bring their 'A' game."

It's been a fun time for Ragnow. It's the first time in his six-year career that the Lions began the season as playoff contenders. They've lived up to the advance billing, with a 4-1 record going into Sunday's game.

"I'm just taking it one day at a time," Ragnow said. "I don't want to get ahead of myself. What are we, five games in?"

But it's five fun weeks. Even running through the tunnel at Ford Field to start the game is exciting.

"It's awesome being on a roll," he said. "Even the fans at Ford Field. It's been to experience. It's fun seeing our defense playing like that, too."

View photos of the starters for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


Head coach Todd Bowles was on target with his statement at the start of training camp that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would write their own narrative.

They're coming off their bye week with a 3-1 won-loss record that has them in first place in the NFC South.

This is not the same team that won the South last year with an 8-9 record and was knocked out of the playoffs in a 31-14 loss to the Cowboys in what proved to be Tom Brady's last game.

"We write our own narrative," Bowles said in a press conference during the bye. "Everybody loves each other in this building. We play for each other, we coach for each other and we're having fun with it.

"We've been playing tough, and giving ourself a chance. If we clean up the mistakes, we have a chance to be a decent team."

Two Bucs stats to consider: In their 26-9 win over the Saints in their last game, the Bucs held running back Alvin Kamara to 33 yards on 13 receptions.

The Bucs have 10 takeaways, the same total they had in the first four games last season.

"It's just being aware of where the ball is," Bowles said. "Punch the ball out when you get a chance."


Offense: Win the turnover battle. They forced three turnovers and converted them into 21 points in last week's 42-24 win over the Carolina Panthers.

Score more in the third quarter. The Lions have come out flat more often than not in the third quarter. They've scored only 7 points (not including rookie DB Brian Branch's pick-six) in five third quarters. Opponents have scored 21.

Defense: Sack the quarterback. The Lions had 12 sacks vs. the Falcons and Packers combined. They had two in the other three games combined.

The pass rush has to be more efficient consistently.

Lions-Bucs prediction:

The Lions are favored again, and they should be. They're not just hot. They're good.

My pick: Lions 27, Buccaneers 13.

Who ya got?

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