The San Diego Chargers will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in a key matchup for both teams’ playoff aspirations. As a result, we should expect a competitive contest.
After getting a huge road victory last week over the Houston Texans, a win here would even the Chargers’ record at 6-6. Though the AFC has several quality teams in position for the playoffs, the Chargers would still be in the discussion.
But that’s a discussion that the Bucs want to be in on the NFC side of things. At 6-5, they know a win over San Diego would go a long way towards achieving that.
This will be the first game between the teams since 2012 and the Chargers hold an 8-2 edge in the all-time series.
So how will this game go down? To get a little more insight, we asked each of the writers on the Bolt Beat staff for their predictions. We’ve done 12 weeks of this, so the win-loss record for each writer is the number in parentheses.
Conor Denton (5-3): “As a team the Chargers have to run the table to even have a chance at the Wild Card. Fortunately, I think they have the talent, and softish schedule to do so. With Tampa Bay coming to town cross country I expect San Diego to jump out into an early lead and never look back. Jameis Winston is a hot and cold quarterback so if the secondary can force a few turnovers and Philip and co. can put up 24+ points then the team should be looking at a .500 record going into Week 14. San Diego wins 31-21.”
Louis Gorini (9-2): “The Chargers are facing the Buccaneers at the worst time. Tampa Bay has been on a roll as of late. Their defense is creating a lot of pressure on ensuing quarterbacks and their secondary is improving with their newfound ability to create turnovers. As for their offense, all fans need to know is Mike Evans. Evans is perhaps one of the most underrated wide receivers in the game. He will definitely be a huge match up problem for the Bolts secondary with his combination of size and speed. Outside of Evans, Tampa Bay’s offense is scarce. So if San Diego can somehow neutralize him, they will have a shot. In order to defeat Tampa Bay, the Chargers need to turn this into a ground and pound game to wear down this undersized, speedy defense. Rivers cannot be throwing the ball 40 times this game because the Bucs will get to him. All that being said, I feel the Chargers lose 24-17.”
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Derek Anselmo (3-3): “Tampa is a team that finally seems to have evened out, and got it together. Winner of 3 straight, most recently holding the Seahawks to 5 points last week. So much talent for the front 7 of Tampa but they still have a questionable secondary. The offense is also loaded with studs like Mike Evans and Doug Martin. Tough game for me to pick here, my mind says Tampa, but my heart says go with the better QB. Both playing to keep playoff hopes alive, I’m going to take Rivers and the Chargers to win over an East Coast team traveling to the West Coast. Winston is a good young QB, but will force the ball in tight windows at times. I think Rivers keeps the playoff dream alive and throws for four TDs. Also, the defense will continue its turnover streak this week. Final score- Chargers 35, Bucs 31.”
Tyler Schoon (0-0): “The Buccaneers are coming off a solid Week 12 victory against the Seattle Seahawks, with wide receiver Mike Evans leading the way. I think he has some fits this week with Casey Hayward, but will get a touchdown when Dwight Lowery fails to cover the deep ball (again). Fortunately, the Chargers offense is high-scoring enough to keep up. Even with Tyrell Williams questionable for the game, Philip Rivers and company should do enough in the quick passing game to keep the Bucs defensive line from doing too much damage. At home, this should be a winnable game, and the Bolts move to .500. Chargers 27, Buccaneers 20.”
Bill Burgin (4-2): “The Buccaneers will be a tough match up for the Bolts, they will find it difficult to contain Winston. However, Melvin Gordon goes over the century mark, and the tight ends find a way to earn a 31-24 Chargers victory.”
John Burress (3-6): “Bolts by 7. Again, a must win and the Chargers get it done again. The playoffs have already started!!!!”
Matt Pagels (7-4): “The Chargers just beat the first-place Texans and looked good doing it. On Sunday, they face a Bucs team that stunned the Chiefs in Arrowhead two weeks ago and held the Seahawks to five points in last week’s win. Both the Buccaneers (6-5) and Chargers (5-6) are still in the playoff hunt, and the Bolts cannot afford to lose this game (or any remaining game for that matter). This is a tough game to pick, but I’m going with the Chargers because after dealing with bad luck earlier in the year, things start going their way as they make a run.”
Travis Wakeman (5-6): “The Chargers face one of the league’s hottest teams, but I do feel like the long trip to the west coast does have an adverse effect on Tampa in this game. Keep an eye on the status of Tyrell Williams. The Chargers can’t keep winning games without receiving options, and if he doesn’t play, this will be a tough one to win. I see a shootout, but one in which the Chargers will put a few more points on the scoreboard. Chargers 34, Bucs 31.”
Writers picking Chargers: 7
Writers picking Bucs: 1
What do you guys think? Let us know how this game goes down. Who wins and how in the comment section below.