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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Predictions 09-27-2020

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Tom Brady coming to the Mile High city used to indicate a clash of two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. But that was when Brady was with New England and Peyton Manning wasn't on the Hall of Fame ballot.

Those epic battles between Brady and Manning, including two AFC Championship games in Denver, are memories. While Manning retired after the 2015 season, Brady has kept going. At 43, Brady is with a new team but has the same title aspirations with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady leads Tampa Bay into Denver to face the Broncos on Sunday in a Week 3 matchup.

The Buccaneers (1-1) are coming off a 31-17 win over the Carolina Panthers while Denver (0-2) is coming off a game that was more painful than just a 26-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Broncos lost quarterback Drew Lock in the first quarter, and his favorite target last season, wide receiver Courtland Sutton, went down with an ACL tear. Two weeks into the season Denver has lost its best defensive player, linebacker Von Miller, a star running back in Phillip Lindsay and now adds two more significant injuries.

Miller and Sutton are expected to miss the rest of the season while Lock (strained right rotator cuff) is likely out three-to-eight weeks. Lindsay (turf toe) is hoping to be back after the bye week and play against the Patriots on Oct. 11.

The Broncos didn't place Lock on the short-term injured list with the hope he could return sooner than eight weeks.

"There's a chance he may not have to miss three games," Denver coach Vic Fangio said of Lock. "But there's a chance he could miss four or five."

Backup Jeff Driskel came on and nearly led the Broncos to a win at Pittsburgh, and he'll get the start Sunday with Brett Rypien as the backup. Denver brought in Blake Bortles, and the quarterback started the mandated COVID-19 protocols to be cleared. He would likely be the emergency quarterback.

The Broncos have been dealing with other injuries. Cornerback Davontae Harris (hamstring) sat out the first practice of the week while wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (ribs) and defensive lineman Shelby Harris (neck) were limited in practice on Wednesday.

Tampa Bay got good news when wide receiver Chris Godwin cleared the concussion protocol and was a full participant in Wednesday's practice.

Godwin gives Brady another weapon to use against Denver as he gets more comfortable with coach Bruce Arians' offense. Arians was critical of Brady's first game, a 34-23 loss to New Orleans, after he threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns but also tossed two interceptions.

He completed 23 of 35 passes for 217 yards with one TD and one pick against the Panthers.

In his first two games he has completed 46 passes but only two have gone to tight end Rob Gronkowski, both of which came in the first week. Gronkowski, who was one of Brady's primary targets in New England, came out of retirement to join the Buccaneers and has not yet put up the numbers he did with the Patriots.

Arians isn't worried about Gronkowski's targets.

"We brought him in to just play tight end. If that means no catches, that means no catches," Arians said. "If it means 10 catches, it means 10 catches because he's open and that's where the ball goes."

--Field Level Media

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Key Players to Watch

Stadium

Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Denver, Colorado, USA.
Capacity: 76,125

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Last Injuries

Denver Broncos

  • DeMarcus Walker

    Calf
    Ques Sun | I-R

    Walker will miss an undetermined length of time due to a calf injury. The team has put him on the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return list, and they have three weeks in order to activate him.

  • Mike Purcell

    Knee
    Prob Sun | probable

    Purcell is battling a knee injury, but he is likely to be in Sunday's lineup versus the Chiefs.

  • Diontae Spencer

    Shoulder
    Out Sun | out

    Spencer exited the previous game with a shoulder injury, and he will not face the Chiefs on Sunday.

  • Dalton Risner

    Shoulder
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Risner was forced from the last game with a shoulder injury, and it is unclear if he will line up Sunday against the Chiefs.

  • Melvin Gordon III

    Poss. Suspension
    Prob Sun | probable

    Gordon III is facing possible discipline from the league due to an off-filed situation and missed the last game ailing from strep throat. It is anticipated that he will dress for Sunday's contest with the Chiefs.

  • KJ Hamler

    Hamstring
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Hamler sat out the previous game with a hamstring injury, and it is undetermined if he will suit up against the Chiefs on Sunday.

  • Noah Fant

    Ankle
    Prob Sun | probable

    Fant is sidelined due to an ankle injury, but he is expected to return to the fold against the Chiefs on Sunday.

  • Andrew Beck

    Hamstring
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Beck has a hamstring injury, and it is unclear if he will be available Sunday against the Chiefs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Jason Pierre-Paul

    Knee
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Pierre-Paul is managing a knee injury, and there is no indication if he will partake in Sunday's matchup with the Raiders.

  • Antoine Winfield Jr.

    Shoulder
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Winfield Jr. is tending to a shoulder injury, and it has yet to be determined if he will participate in Sunday's clash versus the Raiders.

  • John Molchon

    Knee
    Ques Sun | I-R

    Molchon has been added to the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return list with a knee injury, and the team has a two-week window in to activate him.

  • Leonard Fournette

    Ankle
    Prob Sun | probable

    Fournette sat out the last game with an ankle injury, but he is expected to line up versus the Raiders on Sunday.

  • William Gholston

    Bicep
    Prob Sun | probable

    Gholston is battling a bicep injury, but he is likely to face the Raiders on Sunday.

  • Chris Godwin

    Hamstring
    Prob Sun | probable

    Godwin is bothered by a hamstring injury, but he is expected to take the field Sunday versus the Raiders.

  • Rob Gronkowski

    Shoulder
    Prob Sun | probable

    Gronkowski is hampered by a shoulder injury, but he is projected to be in Sunday's lineup versus the Raiders.

  • Scotty Miller

    Hip
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Miller is hobbled by hip and groin injuries, leaving his status against the Raiders on Sunday clouded.