From here on out, every game is a “must-win” game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That may sound silly, but the Bucs are 3-5 and in the midst of a four game slide, and a team that once had playoff aspirations and a division lead is now sinking when it’s supposed to swim. The Tennessee Titans, too, are 3-5, but they bring a new rookie quarterback to fold in Will Levis. If the Bucs win this game, they move to 4-5 and maintain a thread of hope in a dreadful NFC South — lose, and they’ll be 3-6 with the next game on the road against the San Francisco 49ers.
Here’s how we see a potentially massive game on Tampa Bay’s slate going on Sunday:
River Wells, Editor
Tampa Bay has been awful at home so far this year and is coming off one of the most demoralizing losses perhaps across the entire NFL this year. The Titans had a rough loss to the Steelers on Thursday Night Football, but they’ll get three extra days of rest and have hope behind the play of Levis, who seems to have a higher ceiling than Ryan Tannehill. Todd Bowles normally does well against rookie quarterbacks in his career defensively, but this Titans secondary should give the offense more trouble than Houston did and I don’t see a way out for the defense at this stage of the season.
Titans 24, Bucs 17
Jason Kanno, Contributor
The Bucs are due for a bounce-back game, and it could come against the Titans. Despite the Bucs’ reputation against rookie quarterbacks and the drubbing they took from C.J. Stroud last week, Todd Bowles is actually pretty successful against rookies passers, boasting a 7-5 record against them as a defensive coordinator or head coach. Will Levis has been very impressive since taking over as Tennessee’s starter in Week 8, throwing for 500 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception in two games. Rookie hot streaks rarely last, though, and with a little more tape available on Levis, Bowles is sure to throw everything he has at the young quarterback. Tampa Bay’s offense appeared to turn a corner last week, scoring 37 points. After such a heartbreaking loss, the Bucs will no doubt look to come out firing on all cylinders and put a halt to their four-game losing streak.
Bucs 24, Titans 13
Luke Adragna, Contributor
Sunday is a must win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After being on the losing end of four straight contests, Tampa Bay will have the opportunity to head back home and take on rookie QB Will Levis and the Tennessee Titans. The Bucs hit rock bottom last week and surrendered five touchdowns and nearly 500 yards to first-year QB C.J. Stroud. It would be difficult to have a worse display from the Bucs secondary. I expect Tampa Bay will make the necessary adjustments to keep Levis contained — however, Tennessee will hang on a majority of the contest due to Levis’ arm. The Bucs match up well and will be able to eliminate Derrick Henry from making an impact on the game. Because Tampa Bay will make the Titans’ offense one-dimensional, I think Baker Mayfield will be able to do just enough to take down Tennessee and return to the win column.
Bucs 23, Titans 20