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A Preview of Week 14

When Jacksonville is throwing:
The pass defense has to be the most underwhelming aspect of the Buccaneers defense. They did better when they had all the injuries and the Jackson suspension last year. I still believe they will keep Gabbert struggling. The Jacksonville receiving unit has featured three players cut by other teams earlier in the season: Brian Robiskie, Mike Sims-Walker, and Taylor Price. Edge: even.

When Jacksonville is running: The key to three-and-outs – and the key to interceptions – is to get teams in third-and-long often. The way to frustrate a quarterback – and not just a rookie one -, is to get after them in 3rd and long, where they are getting tired of not converting as their team gets behind. The Buccaneers must stop the run to get them to 3rd and long.  They were 31st in yards-per-carry allowed last season. They are 27th this year but allowing the same number, 4.7. They are facing a great running back this week in Maurice Jones-Drew. Edge: Jacksonville, strongly.

When Tampa Bay is throwing: It’s a weird week for football. An unheralded Cowboys FB returning might be the key to the biggest game of the week and a WR playing safety might be the key to a 3-9 Redskins upsetting a 9-3 Patriots team. I honestly also believe a back-up quarterback – Josh Johnson – should start and would help the team win. If Freeman were 100%, he’d have been practicing this whole week.  Jacksonville will have 3 CB’s out for this game, and allowed the Chargers the most yards they had allowed since week 1. They also gave up the most points they had all season and didn’t pick off Philip Rivers. Edge: Tampa Bay, slightly but strongly if Freeman doesn’t play.

When Tampa Bay is running: The Jacksonville defense has regressed in this area, too. Despite teams wearing down the defense by keeping Gabbert and McCown off the field, they only allowed opponents 108 rushing yards twice in the first 7 games of the year. They’ve allowed it 3 of their last 5 games. The Buccaneers do have a lot of extra rushing yardage when Josh Johnson plays. Edge: Tampa Bay, slightly.

PREDICTION: Either the Jaguars or Buccaneers could carry momentum from this game to a short week. Jacksonville heads to Atlanta Thursday, and the Buccaneers host the Cowboys next Saturday. It’s easy to see where things went wrong for the Buccaneers. During the first four games of their losing streak – tree of which were after Freeman injured his thumb -, they didn’t pass the ball well, they didn’t stop the run and they didn’t make enough turnovers. All the progress made in the Titans game seemed gone last week. Some of these losses have been incredibly painful because of how close they’ve been. Some of these losses have been incredibly painful because of how lopsided they’ve been. Jacksonville is not a good team. It’s 31st in scoring. They’ve fired their coach. The Buccaneers are a better team, so I will pick them just like last week. Buccaneers 18, Jaguars 17 if Freeman starts; Buccaneers 27, Jaguars 17 if Johnson starts.

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