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Week 14 opponent: What the Buccaneers are saying

Every week during the regular season, the opposing head coach and sometimes a player speak to the Detroit media via conference call. This week it was just Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter. I also perused to see what else Tampa Bay players were saying this week.

So, what did they have to say about Sunday's matchup?

1. Koetter was asked if preparations change at all knowing Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is dealing with a hand injury that could potentially affect the way he throws the ball. This was his response: "We try to find a way to get ahold of that hand."

2. Koetter did go on to rave about Stafford's toughness and how he's battled and played through countless injuries. Koetter said there's no way anyone can challenge Stafford's toughness.

View photos of the starters for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

3. All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said it doesn't matter much this week that Detroit can't run the football (ranked 31st), because Tampa Bay hasn't been very good at stopping the run as a defense (23rd) either. He said Detroit is going to come out and try to run it, and it's up to them to try and stop it.

4. The Bucs have just 17 sacks on the year, which is the lowest total in the NFL. Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith said it's been a struggle all year to get his pass rush and coverage units to sync up. He said his defense has really struggled to get home this season.

5. Bucs safety Justin Evans enters this week fully expecting to be tested deep down the field. The Lions are fourth in the NFL with 55 20-plus-yard plays. Evans expects Detroit to try and spread them and play a mismatch game. "They are a very explosive passing offense," he said Wednesday.

6. Smith talked about third down being so vitally important for a defense. He compared getting off the field on third down to getting a turnover. The Bucs were one of the best in the NFL last year on third down. This year, they rank 32nd. Opponents are converting on third down an amazing 49 percent of the time this season.

7. Koetter, like most NFL fans, is looking forward to the matchup between Darius Slay and Bucs Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans. Koetter said the Bucs have been extremely impressed watching Slay on tape this week, and says it should be a good matchup on Sunday.

8. The Bucs were forced to have their bye Week 1 because of Hurricane Irma. That means they've played 12 straight games without a break. It's something Koetter says his team continues to fight through.

9. Smith on Matthew Stafford: "He's a very difficult guy to defend. He has got probably top three in terms of strength of arm. He is a tough dude. He's gotten rocked a few times this season and he just keeps getting up."

Smith said he and his defense are preparing for Stafford to play Sunday.  

10. Receiver Mike Evans said the Bucs are playing for pride these last four weeks against four teams still in the playoff hunt.

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