Joe Mixon dominates and other bold predictions for Week 15 vs. Buccaneers

Joe Mixon dominates and other bold predictions for Week 15 vs.  Buccaneers
Joe Mixon dominates and other bold predictions for Week 15 vs.  Buccaneers

At 9-4 and on a five-game winning streak, the Cincinnati Bengals are in charge of their destiny. They are almost guaranteed a playoff spot and one has to think that just one or two wins will clinch a postseason berth and that is very plausible with their upcoming schedule. It’s not easy by any means, in fact all of these teams will (or at least have a solid chance to) play well into January, but you could make a case that the Bengals really are better than three or even all four of their remaining opponents.

This week they fly to Florida for a game against the Buccaneers. Despite being under .500 (6-7), Tampa Bay plays in such a weak division that, as it stands, they would be in the playoffs if the season ended. As for Cincinnati, the Bucs are another team that will likely be in postseason football with just one or two more wins.

The Bucs are also probably the easiest remaining opponent the Bengals have left on their schedule — a schedule that includes the Patriots, Bills and Ravens — so it’s really no surprise that the Bengals are favored by 3.5 points despite being the visiting team. Even with their less than impressive record, I wouldn’t sleep on the Buccaneers. They have a top-10 defense and Tom Brady has shown, even if he’s starting to show his age, that he can still lead clutch drives.

With that out of the way, let’s look at some bold predictions I have for this matchup.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

If you haven’t been following the Buccaneers, this might not sound like a bold prediction, but I assure you, it is. While Joe Burrow has been on top form since the playoffs began, Brady has had one of the worst years of his career, easily his worst since he’s been in Tampa and arguably worse than his last season in New England.

So why would I predict him to keep up with Burrow? And why would I predict Burrow to have another great game against a top-10 defense?

Well, first, I’m going to back off from something our own Leigh Oleszczak wrote in his article about predicting the Bengals’ final games. In Leigh’s article she states, “This is the time of year when Tom Brady really gets things going and puts his team on his back.”, which is why I think Brady will have a big game against a Cincy defense that has t allowed many of them lately.

As for Burrow, he has proven that he can play well against good defenses and especially in the face of pressure over the last five games. In terms of sacks and pressure %, the Chiefs have a top-5 defensive line and Joey Franchise still put up 300+ total yards, three total touchdowns and completed 80% of his passes. After this last game against Cleveland was mostly focused on defense, I think we’re about to see an offensive firefight.

After missing two and a half games after suffering a concussion, Joe Mixon had a nice bounce back against Cleveland this past Sunday and looked like the RB1 again, rushing for 96 yards on 14 carries (6.86 avg. per carry) and gained 10 more yards on two carries. catches to give him over 100 yards total on the day. He didn’t get into the end zone, but his effort helped lead a couple of scores and run down the clock.

This week, I think he’ll find himself scoring twice to make up for not getting a touchdown in the return last week, as well as going over 100 yards against a solid Bucs defense that’s surprisingly weak against the run (20th in rushing) yards allowed/wild).

In Mixon’s final full game that he started and finished before returning last week, he had the best game of his career, finding the end zone five times and finishing with over 200 all-purpose yards. Then, after being injured midway through the second quarter against Pittsburgh, Mixon returns and nearly tops 100 yards rushing again.

To me, Mixon seems to be finding his stride just as the offensive line is, and I think he’ll have a good finish to the season after struggling to start the 2022 campaign.

If there’s one thing these two offenses are both good at, it’s taking care of the ball. The Bengals have just 13 turnovers on the season, 11 of them coming against AFC North opponents, and the Buccaneers are right behind them with just 14 on the year, good for second and third fewest in the league, respectively (excluding ties with other teams).

While they both boast good defenses as well (Tampa – 9th, Cincinnati – 11th), I think both will have trouble taking the ball against these offenses that tend to hold possession until they either score or punt. I don’t think either side will have turned the ball over when the clock hits triple zero, even if these defenses border on elite at times.

On the year, I’m 2/6 on bold predictions, so hopefully I’ll get more than one right this time.

Do you have any bold predictions for this game against Tampa Bay?

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