The San Diego Chargers are prepared to travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers in Week 10, when a battle of 4-4 teams spans across both conferences.
Each team is fighting for a wild-card spot in their respective conferences, but appear to be trending in different directions. On the back of RB Doug Martin, the Bucs have turned it around with two big wins in the past two weeks.
San Diego got a welcomed game against Kansas City in Week 9 and ended a three-game losing streak with a 31-13 win. If San Diego can't recover from that early setback and make the playoffs, they could be in for wholesale changes in the offseason.
Here's an early look at everything you need to know on both teams before they square off.
When: Sunday, November 11 at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Raymond James Stadium; Tampa Bay, Florida
Watch: CBS (check local listings); NFL Sunday Ticket (Live Stream)
Betting Line: Buccaneers -3 (according to Bovada)
Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
|LB||Antwan Barnes||Hamstring|| Left Week 9 Early
|DB||Chris Carr||Quadriceps|| Missed Week 9
|LB||Jonas Mouton||Hip|| Missed Week 9
|WR||Eddie Royal||Hamstring|| Missed Week 9
No players of note.
Doug Martin has been a monster for fantasy owners the past two weeks, racking up 83 total points and blowing away projections. The Muscle Hamster is on a tear, a legit No. 1 option at RB and now a total focus of opposing defense.
On the other side, Philip Rivers still has plenty of options, headlined by TE Antonio Gates and WR Malcom Floyd. Ryan Mathews can also go off at any time, and there will be plenty of offensive firepower for both of these squads.
Start Martin, be careful with Rivers against a ball-hawking secondary and never sleep on his favorite target, Gates.
What They're Saying
Sports Illustrated's "Bolt Beat," a blog for the Chargers, had this to say about containing Martin this weekend.
"Despite Jackson’s impact on the Bucs’ offense, I am even more concerned with the presence of rookie running back Doug Martin. The first year running back had a coming out party of sorts against the Minnesota Vikings last week. Martin racked up 214 total yards. He also had a run of 41 yards coupled with a 64 yard screen pass that he took to the house for his second touchdown of the game. Martin is a gamebreaker and will definitely provide a tough test for the defense."
"He's one of the top five wide receivers in this game...It's going to be a challenge, but at the same time, it's always a challenge you look forward to because of his ability to make plays. Like I said, I'd rank him right there in the top five receivers of this game. It's going to be matchup that I'm sure he's looking forward to."
Chargers Player to Watch: QB Philip Rivers
It seems to always be about Rivers in San Diego. When he plays well, this team can compete with any team in the NFL. When he plays poorly, a ripple effect seems to doom the offense and then the rest of the team.
It's due time he lived up to his top draft-pick billing. Much like Tony Romo, Rivers has struggled to win the big game while his teams have been loaded with talent. If he wants to keep his job, these are the kinds of games he needs to win.
Buccaneers Player to Watch: RB Doug Martin
Who else right now for the Bucs?
After 486 yards from scrimmage in two games, Martin has quickly put qualms of his inability to play to rest. How will he respond against the league's fourth-best defense against the run? The Chargers are only giving up 84 yards per game on the ground.
Key Matchup: WR Vincent Jackson against his old team
Jackson didn't always have it easy in San Diego, but the former second-round pick struck it big with a huge contract from the Bucs.
He already has 710 yards and six touchdowns on just 31 catches. Jackson is a major threat to any defense, but this one will have a little added flavor playing against a defense that covered him in practice for so many years.
On the Hot Seat: Norv Turner
Who you got?
Turner's seat has been the hottest in the NFL for what seems like an eternity. I don't think management would pull the trigger on his firing mid-season, but another loss would make it even harder for this team to make the playoffs in the AFC, especially with teams like Miami and Indianapolis now in the rearview.
Turner is running out of chances, although a win and a strong playoff run could keep him around for another season.
Tampa Bay is playing as good as any team in the league. In a virtual must-win for both teams, I'll give the edge to the great running game at home—Tampa Bay wins this one on a late field goal, and in doing so covers the spread.
Tampa Bay 24, San Diego 21