Winston, Bucs try to continue surge vs. Lions

Sunday’s tilt between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions can best be described as a team from the south headed north in the standings going up against a team from the north plummeting south.Tampa Bay will head to Detroit playing its best football of the year, having won three consecutive games and four of its last five following a 2-6 start.The Buccaneers have been clicking offensively the last three weeks, scoring 35 points against Atlanta, 28 points at Jacksonville and 38 points in a win at home over Indianapolis on Sunday.Tampa Bay (6-7) has produced because of, and also in spite of, erratic quarterback Jameis Winston.Winston has completed 61.3 percent of his passes and is second in the NFL in passing yards (4,115) and tied for second in touchdown passes (26). But Winston is also turning the ball over at an alarming rate, with his 23 interceptions the most in the league by seven.Winston’s inconsistency was on full display last week against the Colts, when he threw for 456 yards and four touchdowns, but also three interceptions, including his fifth pick-6 of the season.”He puts a lot of touchdowns up,” Lions head coach Matt Patricia said of Winston. “We have to make sure we get that stopped first. Just capitalize on those opportunities if we get them.”Winston suffered a hairline fracture in his right (throwing) thumb during the win over the Colts, but said he intends to play against the Lions. He was limited in Wednesday’s practice.The Buccaneers won’t have one of their key offensive weapons against the Lions, as wideout Mike Evans suffered a season-ending hamstring injury against the Colts.”It’s going to be different from that aspect, not having one of the best receivers in the game,” Winston said. “As far as conceptually, we are going to do what we do. We have some great guys who have been stepping up for us like they did last game. We are going to go out and execute.”However, Winston and Tampa Bay’s other healthy playmakers on offense have to be licking their chops. They face a porous Detroit defense that is the biggest reason why the Lions are in a free fall.Detroit (3-9-1) has lost six games in a row and nine of 10, moving into the fifth spot in the 2020 NFL Draft order.The Lions rank 29th in the league in total defense, giving up 397.4 yards per game. The Lions are also 24th in scoring defense, giving up an average of 25.8 points per game.However, Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said the Lions do present problems defensively.