Here’s what you need to know about the Bucs’ rare Saturday game against the Texans at Raymond James Stadium.:
Bucs-Texans TV, streaming options, odds, etc.
Time: 1 p.m. ET Saturday
Place: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
TV: WMOR (Tampa Bay), NFL Network
Radio: 97.9 FM in Tampa Bay (Bucs radio affiliates can be found here).
A step back
John Romano, columnist, @romano_tbtimes: A revamped pass defense, a hot quarterback, a four-game winning streak? Was it all a mirage? If the Bucs don’t show up against Houston today, that’s exactly what it will look like. Tampa Bay’s late-season turnaround will be attributed to a string of weak-to-mediocre opponents. Chances are pretty good the Bucs will put a lot of points on the board, but the question is whether they can slow down Deshaun Watson and Houston’s potent running game. For the first time in a month, the defense will take step back. Texans 34-30.
Losing Evans and Godwin is too much
Rick Stroud, Bucs beat writer, @NFLStroud: Losing Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will just be too much to overcome since they represent about half of the passing offense. Breshad Perriman is coming off a three-TD game but will now have to do it while drawing double-teams. The Bucs defense has been playing with confidence, but it will have trouble containing Watson, who extends plays and can pick up first downs with his feet. Texans 34-27.
Still looking for a big win
Eduardo A. Encina, Bucs/Pro sports enterprise writer, @EddieintheYard: Not to take the air out of the pirate ship’s sails, but the Bucs haven’t beaten a great team during their four-game winning streak. A win over a Texans team battling to win the AFC South would give their their best victory of the season. But the Bucs have struggled against mobile quarterback, and Deshaun Watson fits that mold. Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins can give defenses nightmares. Hope that Bucs don’t fall behind early, because Jameis Winston won’t have his two favorite targets in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Texans 31-24
Keep Winston in your fantasy lineup (and bet the over)
Thomas Bassinger, sports data reporter, @tometrics: This is a favorable matchup for Jameis Winston, even without Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (who account for 44 percent of the Bucs’ total yardage) in the lineup. The Texans rank 26th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense ratings and 29th in interception rate. Winston doesn’t need to push the ball down the field, however. Houston’s actually better at defending deep passes than short passes. It has allowed opposing running backs to catch 93 passes (most in the NFL), gain 791 receiving yards (third most) and eight touchdowns (most). That said, Tampa Bay typically doesn’t feature its running backs in its passing attack. Its running back target rate of 18 percent ranks 21st. Heck, Vita Vea has just as many touchdown receptions (one) as Ronald Jones, Peyton Barber, Dare Ogunbowale and T.J. Logan combined. Las Vegas has set the point total line at 49.5. The Bucs and their opponents have gone over in 11 of 14 games. Texans 31-27
Ripe for a letdown
Mike Sherman, deputy editor | sports, @mikesherman: The Texans can lose this game and still win the AFC South at home next week against the Titans. This game feels ripe for a letdown from a team with a two-touchdown home loss to Denver in its recent past. Bucs 31-30.
Is this the Bucs’ chance for a signature win? (Rick Stroud)
What the Bucs should do with Jameis Winston (Rick Stroud)
Who are these guys Jameis Winston will be throwing to? (Eduardo A. Encina)