Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Raiders-Buccaneers: Five things to watch in Sunday's game

The Bucs open a three-game homestand today against a team that leads the NFL in road wins. Can they win their third straight? They haven't been above .500 this late in a season since 2012, when they were 6-4. Here are five things to watch versus the Raiders:

1. Tough test for an improving Bucs pass defense: Last season the Bucs allowed opponents to complete 70 percent of their passes, setting a franchise record and finishing last in the 32-team league. They are much, much better in that area in 2016. Opponents are completing 58 percent, the fourth-lowest mark in the NFL. Keep in mind, aside from the Falcons' Matt Ryan, the Bucs haven't faced anyone higher than 20th in quarterback rating. The Raiders' Derek Carr is completing 65.9 percent, with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. Can the Bucs force him into turnovers? The defense had two takeaways in the first four games; it has five in the past two. Add two special teams turnovers and Tampa Bay has more takeaways in the past two games than any team in the NFL. But turnover margin might be Oakland's strength (plus-8).

2. Lots of scoring, potentially: The Raiders are actually 3-1 when allowing 27 points or more. The Bucs, since the start of 2011, are 3-36 when they give up 27-plus.

The Raiders have been able to overcome a bad defense in their 5-2 start. They've faced some prolific offenses and have given up nine plays of 40 yards or more, matching the most in the league. The Bucs defense had a similar problem early this season, but it has buckled down. The 49ers' longest play last week was 24 yards.

Seven of the 40-yard pass plays the Raiders have given up have come in the second half, when defenses have tired legs. So though the Bucs will work early to establish a run game, they might also take advantage of a Raiders defense that is the league's worst in yards allowed and passing yards allowed.

3. Another opportunity for Bucs RB Jacquizz Rodgers: With Doug Martin still sidelined by his hamstring injury, the bulk of the carries again will go to Rodgers, who gained 101 yards against Carolina two games ago and 154 against San Francisco last week.

Oakland's run defense is fifth worst in the league, allowing an average of 128 yards per game. Baltimore's Terrance West (113) and Kansas City's Spencer Ware (131) had their only 100-yard games this season against the Raiders. If Rodgers can top 100 for the third game in a row, he will do something Martin has done once in five seasons.

4. Bucs pass rush drawing penalties: Oakland has given up a league-low seven sacks. Its weakness, however, is penalties. The Raiders lead the league with 20 accepted holding penalties and 13 false starts. That includes three holds each for guards Vadal Alexander and Kelechi Osemele. Bucs DT Gerald McCoy can be disruptive just by drawing holding penalties.

Oakland leads the league in penalties and is second in penalty yards, so there's an opportunity for the Bucs to pile up hidden yards.

5. Watch out for the fourth quarter: The Raiders rank fifth in fourth-quarter scoring (9.6 points). They scored 22 points to beat the Saints after trailing 24-10 in the third, and they had 14 points in fourth quarters against the Falcons and Ravens. The Raiders' Derek Carr ranks fifth in fourth-quarter QB rating (five touchdowns, one interception). The Bucs' Jameis Winston has two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. The Bucs rank 31st in fourth-quarter scoring (3.7 points).

Raiders-Buccaneers: Five things to watch in Sunday's game 10/28/16 [Last modified: Saturday, October 29, 2016 9:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ronde Barber: Want intimidation? Look at past Bucs teams


    Ronde Barber says these days "it's hard to find throwbacks, where you go, 'That guy is a badass.' Where do you find that now? It's such a show-off sport." (Times 2012)
  2. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  3. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. gets extra day off to let hip heal

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RF Steven Souza Jr. ran in rightfield before batting practice under the watchful gaze of the Rays training staff and manager Kevin Cash. Afterward, Souza told Cash he could use one more day of rest before playing on the left hip he strained Wednesday in Oakland.

    Steven Souza Jr., hugging Mallex Smith after Smith’s solo home run in the eighth inning, feels relief after tests are negative on his injured hip.
  4. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: FS1; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)