The Dallas Cowboys had won 11 straight games for the first time in team history, but they fell to the New York Giants this past week with their worst offensive performance of the season. Now, Dallas has to rebound against one of the hottest teams in the NFC. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won five straight games to move into a tie atop the NFC South (currently in first as they own the tiebreaker over Atlanta), and this may be the toughest game the Cowboys have left on their schedule.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season Record: 8-5
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started out the season with a 3-5 record and it looked like the Atlanta Falcons were running away with the NFC South. However, they have now ripped off five straight wins to move to 8-5 and are tied with the Falcons for the NFC South lead. They split their series with the Falcons, but Atlanta still holds the tiebreaker. A win by the Buccaneers over the Dallas Cowboys could really help improve their playoff hopes.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers On Offense
Jameis Winston is growing into a quality NFL quarterback in Tampa Bay. He doesn’t rank high in QB rating, and that’s thanks to his 12 interceptions. He has also been sacked 26 times this season, which causes problems. However, he has thrown for 3,364 yards and 23 touchdowns. His top weapon is Mike Evans, who is having a Pro Bowl-caliber year to say the least, with 80 receptions for 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Doug Martin missed six games this season and has only managed to rush for 379 yards with three touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ other seven games. That is a huge downfall for last year’s second leading rusher in the NFL. However, it can’t be a surprise that his return was the start of the Buccaneers’ five-game winning streak. Tampa has become a passing team, but Martin is still important.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers On Defense
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rank 21st in the NFL in total defense, a low ranking for a solid unit. They rank 16th against the pass and 21st against the run, which is not good with Ezekiel Elliott coming up. However, they are really opportunistic. Despite Winston’s 12 interceptions, the Buccaneers are still at plus six on turnover ratio, with 14 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries. Brent Grimes leads the team with three interceptions while 10 different players have recovered a fumble. Gerald McCoy is still a leader on this defense, with seven sacks on the year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Players To Watch
Gerald McCoy – Dak Prescott has just come off the two worst games of his rookie season and that is because he has been rushed and hurried; he really hasn’t thrown the ball well. Gerald McCoy will go up against the middle of the Dallas Cowboys’ line and his battles with Zack Martin are sure to be the best of the game.
Mike Evans – The Dallas Cowboys defense has done a great job of bottling up running backs this season and shouldn’t have too many problems with Martin in this game. However, as Odell Beckham Jr. showed, the Cowboys struggle sometimes against big pass plays and it is Evans who will give them problems this week if he gets free.
The Dallas Cowboys looked almost unstoppable this season. However, they barely beat the Minnesota Vikings in Week 13 (17-15) and lost to the New York Giants this past weekend. Now, they face the hottest team in the NFC right now. This is a game the Cowboys could lose, and they will have to really step it up to have a chance to clinch the NFC East this weekend.