FBG says: Good matchup. Tampa Bay's high-volume passing attack, which has posted near league-leading totals across the board, suffered at least one major loss last weekend when Mike Evans was lost for the remainder of the season to a hamstring injury. Quarterback Jameis Winston's status this weekend is also in doubt after he suffered a hand injury, opening the door for a potential Ryan Griffin start. Regardless of who starts under center for the Buccaneers, the passing attack will almost certainly run through Chris Godwin, who ranks amongst the league leaders in almost every receiving stat this season. Without Evans in the fold, Godwin's role in the offense has room to grow, while players like Justin Watson and Breshad Perriman may step up as well. Last weekend, with Evans only playing 23-percent of the team's offensive snaps, Justin Watson tallied 8 targets, and Breshad Perriman registered 5 of his own. Tight end O.J. Howard's second NFL season has been disappointing, but he posted a season-high in receiving yardage last weekend without Evans in the fold. In total, Tampa Bay's passing attack will likely suffer without Mike Evans available, and especially if Jameis Winston is inactive. Expect Chris Godwin, Justin Watson, Breshad Perriman, and O.J. Howard to step up without Mike Evans in Week 15 against the Detroit Lions' horrific pass defense.
The Detroit Lions have defended one of the highest volumes of pass attempts of any team in the league this season, and their efficiency numbers against the pass have been horrendous. The Lions have allowed the third-most passing yardage in the NFL while allowing a 26-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio through their first 13 games, one of the worst marks in the NFL. On the whole, Detroit's defense lacks pass defending talent aside from Trey Flowers, an impressive edge rusher with six sacks in his last five games. Detroit's linebackers are especially weak in coverage, with Jarrad Davis and Jahlani Tavai grading as two of the weakest pass defenders in the league at the position. Lastly, in the secondary, injuries, trades, and regression have decimated the team's defensive backfield. First, Tracy Walker is the team's number-one pass defending safety has missed time this season, and although he has recently returned to action, he has yet to return to his strong form of earlier this season. Next, the Lions traded away Quandre Diggs in a puzzling midseason transaction with the Seattle Seahawks. Since he was traded away, Diggs has registered three interceptions for his new team while the Lions have allowed multiple three-touchdown passing performances. Lastly, Darius Slay has regressed as a cover corner. His reputation far exceeds his on-field performance this season, and he has been exploited on numerous occasions. Overall, if Jameis Winston is unable to play for Tampa Bay, the soft matchup may not impact very much. However, if he is able to play, expect him to throw the ball early, often, and well against Detroit's porous secondary.