The Las Vegas Raiders take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week seven of the 2020 NFL season. The Raiders are on a high after a historic 40-32 win versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead to go 3-2 on the season. Coming off a bye week they will be rested and fully prepared to take on Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, who sit at 4-2 on the year. This game promises some good football and exciting matchups, broken down in this week seven preview.
The Buccaneers sit atop the NFC South with a 4-2 record, claiming some impressive wins in the first six games. They’ve already beaten the Broncos and the Chargers and are looking to make it 3-0 versus the AFC West this season with a win against the Raiders. After finishing the 2019 season with a 7-9 record, the Buccaneers spent the offseason improving their offense. Their main weakness last year was turnovers which they did 41 times, including 30 interceptions by Jameis Winston. This was the most in the NFL. This season they’ve started by giving the ball away seven times in six games, a massive improvement.
Tom Brady was the big talk of the offseason ending his 20-year stay with the Patriots to join Tampa Bay. Through six games, Brady has 1541 passing yards and 14 touchdowns with four interceptions. However, he has a mediocre 64.1% passing completion rate. He’s currently playing on a pace to throw his 3rd highest touchdowns in a season. He might be 43, but he’s still playing at a high enough level to raise the ability of those around him.
After starting only two games together this season Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are going to play against the Raiders. Evans and Godwin both topped 1000 receiving yards last season, combining for 17 touchdowns. They are one of the top wide receiver duos in the league. If they can develop a rapport with Brady after an inconsistent start to the season, it will be tough to stop them. This will be a real test for the Raiders secondary.
Battle in the trenches
The Bucs offensive line is one of the best in the league. After spending the 13th overall pick on tackle Tristan Wirfs, the Bucs were set up for success. Wirfs has a PFF grade of 74.2, allowing just one sack on the year. The line as a whole is allowing just 1.3 sacks per game, the fifth-best in the league. This was an improvement from the 2.9 they gave up in 2019. The offensive line play has also benefited third-year running back Ronald Jones II, who is averaging 4.9 rushing yards per attempt, 0.7 more than last season.
The Raiders defense is going to have to manage the sustained pressure they produced in week five against the Chiefs in order to disrupt this game. Clelin Ferrell managed nine pressure against the Chiefs, six more than his previous best of three. The huge improvement from the second-year defensive end should cause the Bucs some issues.
Can you see an improvement on the Raiders defense from here?
An underrated Defense
The Buccaneers defense is one of the most underrated defenses over the past few years. They have elite players on each level of the defense and are extremely good at stopping the run. During the 2020 season, they finished by giving up just 73.8 yards per game to the run, the lowest in six years. This season they are giving up just 64.3 yards per game to the run. If they can keep up this elite level, they would be the best run defense of the last 10 years.
The Bucs defense has an elite linebacking core that runs the show in their 3-4 defense. Lavonte David has been one of the NFL’s best linebackers consistently over the last eight seasons and has started 2020 the same way. After finishing the 2019 season with a 91.4 PFF coverage grade, the best among linebackers, along with 123 combined tackles. Shaquil Barrett was a huge surprise last season, leading the NFL with 19.5 sacks. He hasn’t quite picked up where he left off, with just three sacks in 2020.
Jon Gruden will have a tough time on his hands scheming against this defense. Josh Jacobs and the offensive line will have to perform at an elite standard to get any noteworthy plays off. This game will come down to Derek Carr and whether he has enough time in the pocket to perform. The Bucs can be susceptible to big plays, and Henry Ruggs III could be in line for his largest workload of the season. I’d expect him and Waller to be used in a bunch of receiver screens to get chunk plays.
Check out how the Raiders dynamic offense are carrying this team here
- All five of the Raiders starting offensive line were sent home on 21st October after Trent Brown was placed on the COVID/Reserve list.
- Raiders second-year safety Johnathan Abram has been sent home after being in contact with Trent Brown.
- Raiders linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski is a full participant in practice for the first time in four weeks.
- Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski was not at practice on Wednesday with a shoulder injury.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 – 34 Las Vegas Raiders
If the Raiders can perform at the same level as they did against the Chiefs, they can pick up the win at the Allegiant Stadium. A high scoring game is on the cards, which suits the Raiders offense. Henry Ruggs III will have his biggest game of the year, with over 100 yards and two touchdowns. The Raiders go 4-2 on the season with the NFL’s easiest strength of schedule to come. Las Vegas is in a great position to make their first playoff appearance for three seasons.