Five things to watch: Buccaneers at Lions

Detroit News

Matt Schoch
 |  Special to The Detroit News

Just a heads up, in case you haven’t heard. This week’s game is Saturday and it’s on NFL Network.

You may already have holiday plans that day and you also may not have that channel. Check with your social scheduler and also your TV provider.

But you could do worse things on a Saturday afternoon than watch Tom Brady eviscerate the Lions for what’s likely to be the final time.

Here are five things to watch as the Lions play host to the Buccaneers (1 p.m., NFL Network/WJR 760):

►1. Tom Brady: You don’t want to count Tom Brady out, but this is unlikely the Lions will ever play Brady again after Saturday. Detroit could play Tampa Bay again in 2022 though, if both teams finish next season in the same spots of their divisions. Brady will be 45 then. Of course, the teams also could meet in the NFC playoffs next season. See what I’m saying about unlikely.

►2. Coaching calls: In an amazing twist, the Lions will be coached Saturday by wide receivers coach Robert Prince, as Darrell Bevell is sidelined because of COVID-19 protocols. Evan Rothstein, who has largely worked as an analyst in Detroit, will call the defenses. Prince is the team’s longest-serving position coach, and Rothstein has been with the franchise since the Jim Schwartz days. This is likely to be the closest thing an NFL team will ever look to you calling plays on Madden. Wouldn’t it be perfect Lions’ luck for everything to come together this week?

More: Detroit News scouting report: Buccaneers at Lions

►3. Hometown hero: Matthew Stafford famously grew up in Texas but he was actually born in the Tampa Bay area. He’s done very well against Sunshine State teams too, combining for an 8-1 mark against Miami, Jacksonville and the Buccaneers. He also holds the career records for most passing yards (44,799) and touchdowns (279) for a Florida-born player. The Tampa Bay defense will try to take the ball away from Stafford, as the Bucs are tied for fourth in the NFL with 49 takeaways over the last two seasons, leading to 215 points (second in league).

►4. Comeback kings: We could have dueling comebacks late on Saturday with two masters going at it. Brady has the most comebacks from 10 or more points in NFL history with 37. That’s 10 more than Drew Brees, who is No. 2 on the list. As for Stafford, the Lions’ quarterback leads the league in most fourth-quarter comebacks since 2009 with 31.

►5. Flirting with 10: The Lions were nearly double-digit underdogs in each of the last two weeks, but both games settled at a 9.5-point spread at kickoff. Guess what the spread was Thursday evening for Saturday’s game? It was 9.5 again. will have the up-to-the-minute spreads from regulated sportsbooks. Of course, you can’t bet online yet in Michigan and won’t be able to until next month — after the Lions season is over.

Matt Schoch writes for and also freelances for The Detroit News.

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