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The Buccaneers are sailing up the Hackensack River to invade MetLife Stadium, pillage the New York players and plunder their 12th win of the year. Something they haven’t done since that magical 2002 season. In their path is a 4-11 Jets team that’s had their fair share of, shall we say, trials and tribulations this season. With wins over the Titans (27-24 in OT at home), Bengals (34-31 at home), Texans (21-14 on the road), and Jaguars (26-21 at home) by a combined 18 points total for all four games; New York doesn’t portray a team that should give the Buccaneers much of a challenge.
Notice I said, “should”.
Even while being led by the “GOAT” Tom Brady, the Bucs have been guilty of playing down to their inferior opponents at times. Look at the Washington game and both Saints games this season. Look at the Bears game and both Saints games last season. It happens. However, after taking a look at this Jets team, I would be surprised if it happens this time. Yes, the Bucs are hurting. They have players that are injured. They have players that are “sick“. They have players that are questionable, doubtful, game-time decisions and ruled out (I’ll get into all of that later), but they still have enough talent and firepower to win this game. So, for now, here’s what you need to know about the New York Jets football team before the toe hits the leather on Sunday.
It sucks; they may be ranked 21st in the league, gaining 319 total yards per game, but they still average just 221 passing yards (30th), 98 rushing yards (28th), and 18 points (28th) per game. Starting quarterback Zach Wilson has thrown for 2,013 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions this season while completing just 56% of his passes. Only five teams in the NFL have allowed more sacks than the Jets offensive line (43), and only one team (Jaguars) has a worse turnover ratio (-13). In fact, they’ve given the ball away twice as much as they’ve taken it away this year. Their leading rusher Michael Carter has 566 yards and 4 touchdowns this season while averaging just 47 yards per game on the ground. They will likely be without their top three pass catchers in this game, too. Their leading receiver Elijah Moore (43 catches/538 yards/5 TD’s), could be out for this game. Corey Davis is second (34 catches/492 yards/4 TD’s), and he’s on IR. And Jamison Crowder is third (50 catches/431 yards/2 TD’s), and he’s doubtful for this game. They could also be playing without their top two tights ends Tyler Kroft and Ryan Griffin, who are both on the COVID-19 list. This offense that was already pretty bad, and will be in even worse shape on Sunday, will be facing a Buccaneers defense that hasn’t allowed a touchdown in eight quarters. That’s not a good combination for New York.
If you thought the Jets’ offense was bad, just look at their defense. They are dead last in the NFL, giving up 391 total yards and 30 points per game, including 250 passing (28th) and 141 rushing (30th) yards, and they only have 13 total takeaways in 15 games. If that’s not bad enough, they could be missing some key guys for this game as well. Their sack leader Quinnen Williams (6) AND their #1 cornerback and leader in passes defended Bryce Hall (14) are both on the COVID-19 list and in danger of missing this game. That wouldn’t bode well for them facing a Bucs offense that’s averaging 402 total yards and 30 points per game.
WHO’S IN & WHO’S OUT
Oh boy, where do I begin? Obviously, the Bucs are already without Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette, and Lavonte David, who are all on IR. They will also be without their bookend defenders Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) and Shaq Barrett (knee), who are both officially ruled “out” for this game. Richard Sherman is listed as “doubtful” with a groin injury. Also, Mike Evans (hamstring), Antonio Brown (ankle), Justin Watson (quad), and Antoine Winfield Jr. (foot) are all listed as “questionable” and will be game-time decisions. In addition to them, cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean are both on the COVID-19 list and could miss this game. The good news is that wide receiver Breshad Perriman and defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches have been activated off of the COVID-19 list and should be available to play.
New York isn’t quite in as bad of shape as Tampa Bay, but they’re not at full strength either. They only have one player, wide receiver Jamison Crowder (calf), listed on their injury report. However, wide receiver Elijah Moore is on the COVID-19 list AND dealing with a quad injury, so he is ruled “out” for this game. On offense, running back Tevin Coleman and tight ends Tyler Kroft,\ and Ryan Griffin are all on the COVID-19 list. On defense, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, linebacker Jarrad Davis and cornerback Bryce Hall are all on the COVID-19 list. All six of these players are in danger of missing this game.
This is probably the most lopsided matchup the Bucs have had this season. The Jets have a bad offense, a worse defense, and not enough talent on either side to make this game the least bit intriguing. The most interesting thing about this game is that it will set a new NFL record for the age difference between opposing quarterbacks with Tom Brady (44) and Zach Wilson (22). Other than that, this will likely be a rough afternoon for Jets fans. Bucs fans, however, should be happy with the results.
- Tristan Wirfs vs. John Franklin-Myers: Franklin-Myers is tied with Quinnen Williams for the team lead in sacks with six for the season. Wirfs has given up just one sack in over a year — this should be a good chess match to keep an eye on throughout the game.
- Joe Tryon vs. George Fant: With JPP and Shaq out with injuries, Tryon-Shoyinka will get his first start of the season, and it will be against a backup left tackle —this should be interesting.
- Ronald Jones vs. CJ Mosley: Mosley leads the Jets with 142 tackles this season and will need to have a solid game for the Jets to have a chance at slowing down Jones and the Bucs rushing attack.
- Bucs WR’s vs. Michael Carter II: I’m not really sure who the Bucs will have playing wide receiver on Sunday, but whoever it is, needs to have a BIG day. Especially if Bryce Hall is “out” and his backup Carter II is starting.
- Alex Cappa vs. Sheldon Rankins: Cappa has had a rough last couple of weeks, and his job doesn’t get any easier on Sunday when facing Rankins, who is third on this team in sacks (3). I’m looking for him to bounce back and have a good outing this week.
Lots of pain and suffering for J-E-T-S fans. This is not going to be pretty. In fact, it’s going to be downright ugly for them. New York is just outmatched, outgunned, outcoached, and outclassed by Tampa Bay. Even missing as many starters as they are, this will be a win for the Bucs, and it won’t even be close.
Bucs 41 Jets 13
The Jets suck. And the Bucs are defending World Champs. The Jets have nothing to play for but pride. The Bucs are going for a franchise record-tying 12th win and trying to claw their way back into that #2 seed for the playoffs. The Jets have a young, snot-nosed rookie at quarterback. The Bucs have the greatest quarterback in NFL history. On paper, this is as much of a sure thing as there can be in the NFL. On the other hand, it is the NFL, and anything can happen on any given Sunday. So now that you know all you need to know about the Bucs’ upcoming opponent, it’s time for me to say;
New York J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, your asses are ON THE CLOCK!