Monday, September 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones: Chiefs game is one Bucs aren't supposed to win but need to

If you're an NFL team, there are three types of games:

Games that you are supposed to win. Games that you're supposed to lose. And games that could go either way.

Today is a game the Bucs are supposed to lose.

The Chiefs are more than a touchdown favorite. They have won five in a row.

They are an NFL-best 17-2 over their past 19 regular-season games. They have won 11 in a row against teams with losing records.

And they are especially tough at home — 16-4 since the start of the 2014 season.

"It's going to be a tough one, but you all know me," Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "It'll be fun. I love games like this."

Let's see how he feels around 4 o'clock this afternoon.

Chances are, not good. And there's nothing embarrassing about that.

Kansas City roughs up a lot of teams. Outside of the Patriots, you could make a case the Chiefs are the AFC's best team. Sports Illustrated has them No. 3 in their power rankings, ahead of the Pats and behind two NFC teams — Dallas and Seattle.

Tampa Bay, by the way, is 21st, so a Bucs loss today would be neither surprising nor disappointing.

But sooner or later, if you're going to take that next step as a franchise, you have to win games you're not supposed to. You need to pull off an upset that makes everyone go, "Whoa!''

Like today.

The Bucs have a lot of these games coming up.

After today's game at Kansas City, the Bucs have games left against Seattle and Dallas (remember them from a second ago in the Sports Illustrated power rankings?). Tampa Bay also has to go to San Diego, has a home-and-home left against New Orleans and finishes at home against defending NFC champion Carolina.

The Bucs might be favored to win, what, one of those games? Maybe two?

It starts with being a decisive underdog in Kansas City.

"I wish it could be a night game and they would wear all red and it just be packed in there, but I'm looking forward to it," Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston said. "They've got a great fan base. It's going to be a great game."

Great game?

The Bucs will have to run the ball better than they did a week ago against the Bears, when they gained 80 yards on 31 attempts, including Doug Martin's subpar day (33 yards on 16 carries). Facing a Chiefs team that is 27th against the run but 13th against the pass, running the ball will be crucial.

Meantime, Winston will have to continue his recent trend. He has thrown one interception in the past three games and two in the past five.

And the defense will have to play more like it did in the 36-10 win over the Bears than it did in the 43-28 loss to Atlanta the week before.

Even then, the Bucs still might not win.

For Tampa Bay, a victory would be surprising … but necessary if the Bucs are ready to take that next step.

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