Five things to watch in Bucs-Chiefs on Sunday
You know that Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place to play. Here's a few more storylines to keep track of as the Bucs face the Chiefs on Sunday:
1. Can Cameron Brate match a Bucs record by catching a touchdown pass in four straight games? The tight end from Harvard caught one in each of the last three games, and if he can do it again against the Chiefs, he'll join an elite group of Bucs to do so in four straight.
Mike Evans did so as a rookie in 2014, Joey Galloway did it twice, in 2004 and 2005, and the only others are Bruce Hill (1988) and Antonio Bryant (2008). No Bucs player has ever caught touchdown passes in five straight games in the same season.
Brate is tied for the NFL lead among tight ends with five, and since Week 3, the first game after the Bucs waived Austin Seferian-Jenkins, his five touchdown catches are one off the NFL high at any position. Only Evans, the Giants' Odell Beckahm, the Packers' Jordy Nelson and the Titans' Rishard Matthews have more, with six each.
2. Can Jameis Winston match his rookie total for TD passes? Winston threw for 22 touchdowns as a rookie, and with seven games left in his sophomore season, he already has 19, so three against Kansas City would tie his season total from 2015.
Winston is on pace for 34 touchdown passes, which would be the fourth-highest ever for a quarterback in his NFL season. The best: Dan Marino had a ridiculous 48 in 1984, Kurt Warner had 41 in 1999 and Blake Bortles had 35 last season. Even 30 touchdowns in a second season has happened only seven times in NFL history.
3. Can the Bucs get another win against Andy Reid? Reid's Eagles eliminated the Bucs in wild-card games after the 2000 and 2001 seasons, and of course, Tampa Bay got its revenge in the 2002 NFC Championship game, with Ronde Barber's 92-yard interception sealing a 27-10 win on the way to a Super Bowl championship.
Reid has won the last two meetings against the Bucs, however: a 33-14 drubbing of a winless Bucs team in 2009, and a painful 23-21 win in 2012 in which Nick Foles threw a touchdown to Jeremy Maclin (out with injury for the Chiefs this week) as time expired.
4. Can the Bucs extend their longest active win streak against any team? Tampa Bay has won four straight games against the Chiefs, literally the only active win streak of longer than two games they have against any team in the NFL.
Those AFC opponents only come once every four years for the Bucs -- it's been long enough since the Chiefs last beat a Tampa Bay team that the last time it happened, Joe Montana was involved. He threw three touchdowns in a 27-3 Chiefs win in 1993 in Tampa.
Another way to look at it: The last time the Chiefs beat the Bucs, Mike Evans was two weeks old, and Jameis Winston wouldn't be born for another four months.
5. Can the Bucs win the turnover margin, and perhaps the game? The Chiefs lead the NFL in turnover margin at plus-14, and that has been a huge part of their success under Andy Reid. Without it, they're quite vulnerable.
In his four seasons as head coach, Kansas City is 21-0 when their turnover margin is plus-2 or better -- literally unbeatable. But if they're just plus-1 or even in a game, they're a rather ordinary 11-7. And in the rare instance that they lose the turnover margin, even by a single turnover -- they're 6-12 under Reid.
Naturally, it's tougher to beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead, where they're 21-7 under Reid. But if you can somehow be at plus-2 or better against them in turnovers -- again, good luck pulling that off -- those teams are 5-1. Fail to do that, and again, the Chiefs are 20-2 at home under Reid.