It’s GAME DAY at Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux – Come watch Bucs football all season long!
WHEN: Sunday, December 18, 2022 | WHERE: Raymond James Stadium | KICK OFF: 4:25 p.m. ET | TV: CBS
GAME-BY-PLAY: Jim Nantz | ANALYST: Tony Romo | NIJLINE: Tracy Wolfson
RADIO: 98 ROCK 97.9 FM | GAME-BY-PLAY: Gene Deckerhoff | ANALYST: David Moore | NIJLINE: TJ Rives
With game day approaching, it’s time for the Pewter Report staff to provide their weekly game predictions and our game preview of this week’s matchup. Let us know what you think in the article comments section and add your prediction as well.
Scott Reynolds: Even the all-tin look will make the Bucs vs. Don’t save Bengals
Tin power? Ha! I believe it when I see it. The Bucs were anything but mighty this year, and the all-tin uniform ensemble won’t help. The strength of this Tampa Bay team is its defense – the same defense that lost 41 points to Kansas City and 35 points to San Francisco last week. Cincinnati’s high-flying offense comes to town this week and will face a battered secondary that will be without top cornerback Jamel Dean and possibly its top defenseman in safety/nickel cornerback Antoine Winfield.
We know the Bucs offense can’t match points with Joe Burrow and Co., so the defense will have to save the day by holding the Bengals to 20 points or less – and getting some elusive takeaways. Can the Tampa Bay offense score even more than 17 points on Sunday? It’s something that has only happened six times this year, but the Bucs are only 3-3 in those games. It could take more than 20 points for the Bucs to win against the Bengals, something the Bucs haven’t done since their bye week in Germany against the Seahawks.
The dysfunction on offense continues against a Bengals defense that may not be at full strength without edge rushers Trey Hendrickson and Joseph Ossai. The 9-4 Bengals are one of the hottest teams in the league right now and I don’t see them cooling off against the lukewarm Bucs. Tampa Bay loses its fourth game at Raymond James Stadium this year, dropping to 6-8.
REYNOLDS’ GAME PREDICT: Bengals 30, Bucs 16
REYNOLDS’ SEASON RECORD: 4-9
Matte Matera: Bucs can’t keep up with Bengal
We still have a week left to wonder if Bucs offense can show up enough to make it a close game. They clearly didn’t last week when they scored just one touchdown in a grueling 35-7 loss. Maybe playing at home on Sunday can give them a little more energy. They have won their last two games at Raymond James Stadium in dramatic fashion. And we’ll finally see them in the Pewter uniforms this season.
You look at the opponent they face this week and you realize that the Bucs have to do more than just keep up with the Bengals. They are already going into it and will be without Vita Vea, Carl Nassib and Jamel Dean. Where does the pass rush come from to stop Joe Burrow? If Carlton Davis joins Ja’Marr Chase, who’s going to stop Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd when they play? This is a defense that also gets no more interceptions. I’m not saying they can’t limit the Bengals, but with their offensive struggles, the defense has to be great and it’s hard to do that without your best players.
The Bucs clearly have a knack for scoring points offensively. I don’t care who they lost last season, if you still have Mike Evans and Chris Godwin plus an exciting new rookie in Rachaad White and a solid veteran in Leonardd Fournette – that should be enough for Tom Brady. However, this offense looks exhausted. They can’t run the football and are consistently in third and long. They can’t lose more than two scores against the Bengals if they want to stay in the game, but that’s exactly where they’ll find themselves if they don’t get creative and attack more in the field. There is room to do it on the outside, we’ll see if they can do it correctly.
MATERA’S GAME PREDICT: Bengals 27, Bucs 14
MATERA’S SEASON RECORD: 5-8
JC Allen: It’s time for Morphin’ for Bucs Attack
Call me crazy, but for some reason – while I’m hoping Byron Leftwich will change his play calling – I haven’t given up hope on these players. There is absolutely no reason for me to think the Bucs can win this game. The offense has been terrible and injuries have once again hit this defense harder than a bag of bricks, but here I am. At some point, the offensive talent has to shine through. The talent in attack has to overcome the bad game. The performance has to click, right? And in a do or be eliminated first in the division scenario for whatever reason, I think the Bucs can do well.
There is a glimmer of hope that right tackle Tristan Wirfs could be back in just two weeks after what on the surface looked like an end-of-season injury. The skill players are all mostly healthy, although Julio Jones is battling a knee injury. And the stakes are high this Sunday against the Bengals. Win this game and you keep losing control of your own destiny and it’s a tough battle to secure the division. The Bucs offense must recapture the magic of the past two seasons. With the Cincinnati dealing with some significant injuries to their own defense, the offense should take advantage.
Defensively, it all comes down to in-game decisions. Antoine Winfield Jr, Mike Edwards, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Joe Tryon Shoyinka are all at risk of missing this game. Their ability to play will go a long way in securing a Bucs win. On the other hand, the Bengals are also dealing with game time decision injuries at their own wide receiver in Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. The loss of Vita Vea and Jamel Dean is huge, but if Cincinnati misses their number two and three options in the passing game, as well as Hayden Hurst, they may struggle to move the ball as successfully as they have. The Bengals will wear their white tiger-themed uniforms this week, but it’s Bucs’ offense that will turn into something we’ve yet to see this season. A team that can score points.
ALLEN’S GAME PREDICT: Bucs 27, Bengals 23
ALLEN’S SEASON REPORT: 4-9
Bailey Adams: Bucs don’t have the offense to keep up with Burrow’s Bengals
I see no reason to choose the Bucs this week. They were dominated last Sunday in a 35-7 loss to the 49ers, and they’ve shown little—nothing really—this season that gives me the slightest bit of confidence that they can beat the 9-4 Bengals in Week 15. Funnily enough, Tampa Bay will fall to 6-8 in what should have been another winning season with Tom Brady under center. Falling back to 6-8 means the team will have to win to even finish above .500.
Looking at this matchup, I see two defenses that are somewhat similar. Tampa Bay’s is slightly better in terms of total defense and points allowed per game, but both units are pretty solid overall. That brings the transgressions into the herd as the deciding factor and if I am forced to choose between a powerful attack directed by Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase or an offense called by Byron Leftwich, I go with the first one 100 times out of 100.
Seriously, could these two groups be any different? Cincinnati’s offense is flying high this season and Tampa Bay’s has failed to get off the ground at all in its first 13 games. Why would that change on Sunday? Look, can the Bucs win this game? Of course they can. The defense is going to have to keep them in there all the time and hope that eventually Brady can do Brady stuff. That was the recipe for wins over Los Angeles and New Orleans in the same stadium this season. But Cincinnati is too beautiful and Tampa Bay is too disappointing for me to take the road less traveled this week. Bengals win, and it won’t be pretty.
ADAMS’ GAME PREDICT: Bengals 28, Bucs 16
ADAMS’ SEASON RECORD: 7-6
Josh Queipo: Bucs have lost that winning feeling
The title may or may not have given away that I recently watched Top Gun. But just as Tom Cruise alluded to when he serenaded Kelly McGillis in the bar with one of the greatest karaoke songs of all time, the Bucs have lost that winning feeling. And I don’t see them coming home against the Bengals.
If the Bucs have a similar lack of pass rush to last week, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will cut out the Tampa Bay secondary who looked extremely mortal in Week 13. And even though they may have some good news in some members of that exhausted secondary return for the Cincinnati game, none of them are quite a match for Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
On offense there is no evidence to lead me to believe that they will score more than 20 points. But with several Bengals edge rushers beaten up, I believe they can once again hit their mediocre season average of 17 points. Even with the possibility of Trey Hendrickson and Joseph Ossai missing the game, I fully expect defensive tackle DJ Reader to eat up the Bucs running game as first down and force the Bucs to ask Tom Brady again to convert 12-plus third downs to to make the abusive work. And I fully expect that Brady can’t live up to those ridiculous expectations.
QUIPO’S GAME PREDICT: Bengals 27, Bucs 17
QUIPO’S SEASON RECORD: 8-5
Kasey Hudson: Bucs can’t contain the Bengals
At this point in the season, most of us just want to see if the Bucs can put together a decent game… While this team continues to struggle to get on the same wavelength, the talent is still there. This week, the Bucs host the Bengals, who are starting to get into a winning rhythm. Cincinnati has held most of its opponents under 20 points, which is frightening for a Tampa Bay offense that cannot be executed consistently in the red zone.
While some injuries for Cincinnati will change Sunday’s key games, it may not matter much. We barely saw Mike Evans for the second half, the tight ends have three to four receptions in total and while Rachaad White was great his effort is predictable. If the Bengals defense can adapt like they did against their last three opponents, the Bucs are looking at another blowout loss.
In addition, there is no appeal to the defense. Vita Vea has been officially ruled out of Sunday’s game, we’ve seen this pass rush step back since Barrett’s loss and when a key interior player goes out this run-stop defense is easy to wear down. And they’re up against Joe Mixon, who’s coming off a match of over 100 rushing heirs. All this to say, it’s just another week I’m holding my breath and wishing the best.
HUDSON’S GAME PREDICT: Bengals 28, Bucs 13
HUDSON’S SEASON REPORT: 7-6
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