The Bucs and Chargers face off tomorrow at Raymond James Stadium, and I'm surprised that they plan to wear different jerseys. They are, essentially, the EXACT. SAME. TEAM.
Oh, you Bucs fans will say, "WHOA, dude!" and bark about how you beat Minnesota and they lost to Cleveland. Hang on a second. Let's re-examine the numbers.
Both teams are 4-4 this season. San Diego is 2-2 on the road. Tampa Bay is 2-2 at home. So, if you're trying to pick a winner, there is no clear-cut choice yet.
In their four wins, each team is scoring big points. Bucs: 33 points per game in Ws. Bolts: 32. In those four wins, the Bucs are allowing 17.25 points per game. Chargers allow 14.25 points.
You still say, "Hey, the Chargers are beating up on weaker teams." Oh? Are they?
The combined records of the four teams the Chargers have beaten is 8-25. The records of the teams in Bucs took down is 11-22. Not THAT much different. Both teams have lost four times. The combined records of the Bucs' opponents in losses? 15-19. The Chargers? 18-15. Again, not a huge difference.
If you want to get technical, the Chargers are beating weaker teams and losing to better teams, while the Bucs are beating better teams but tripping up against weaker teams. But, again, the difference is marginal at best.
The Bucs and Chargers have played three common opponents: Oakland, Kansas City, and New Orleans. Both teams lost to the Saints by the same number of points (7). Both have beaten the Chiefs and Raiders. Those are division games for the Chargers, and San Diego has beaten Kansas City twice. Really, though, how many teams wouldn't beat KC twice if given the chance this year?
Both teams are in the Top 5 in the NFL in opponents rushing yards. The Bucs rank first in the league. San Diego is fourth.
The only real difference between these two teams comes on offense in losses. The Bucs are having a great offensive year, but the points dip nearly 10 points per game in Ls. That's still better than San Diego, though. The Chargers' offense DISAPPEARS in losses. They go from 32 points per game to just 14.25. It's a huge drop-off.
That is the crack in the armor the Bucs need to exploit if they are going to win. Get after Philip Rivers on defense. Throw it deep to Vincent Jackson, who is probably excited about facing his former team, and keep pounding Doug Martin.
The Bucs have been nearly unstoppable for the past five weeks on offense. They need to keep the offense train rolling the next two weeks against the Chargers and Panthers (2-6) before hosting the undefeated Falcons in Week 12.