The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will miss their 12th straight postseason but a three-game winning streak might keep them interested when they visit the Detroit Lions on Sunday. "The resiliency of the team, the 'we're not quitting,' the fact that we are now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs is not going to change anything,'' Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians told reporters. "We're going to come, we're going to work. We're going to try to win four in a row, five in a row, and then six in a row."
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Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has been cleared to play despite sustaining a hairline fracture in his right thumb during last week's 38-35 victory over Indianapolis. Winston's rollercoaster season reached its apex when he threw for a career-high 456 yards with four touchdown passes and three interceptions against the Colts with Arians saying: "You go with the highs and you go with the lows. There was a stretch when it was like, 'He's afraid to throw it now.' Slap him in the face and throw the damn thing. Don't hold it." Minnesota handed Detroit its sixth straight loss 20-7 last week and also knocked Tampa Bay out of playoff contention. "I think unfortunately in the circumstances that we were in, down 20 to nothing, I think you guys have seen that all year from the guys," Lions quarterback David Blough told reporters. "We fought. There's no question of that in this locker room. The guys are going to fight till the end and play hard. We're definitely proud of that. Now, we can't put ourselves in those situations, but we're going to play hard. And I hope people can hang their hat on that."
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Buccaneers -3.5 O/U: 46
ABOUT THE LIONS (6-7): Marvin Jones, whose nine receiving touchdowns are tied for second in the NFL, is out for the season after sustaining foot and ankle injuries last week. Rookie quarterback David Blough struggled against Minnesota in his second career start, throwing a pair of interceptions and getting sacked five times. Defensive end Tre Flowers has six sacks in his last six games, including one in each of the last two contests.
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (3-9-1): Winston's 26 touchdown passes trail only Lamar Jackson (28 entering Thursday) but his 23 interceptions are seven more than next-worst Baker Mayfield while his 4,115 passing yards trail Dallas' Dak Prescott by seven for the league lead. Mike Evans is out for the rest of the season after sustaining a hamstring injury last week so the focus will be on Chris Godwin (team highs of 81 catches, 1,212 yards and nine TDs) even more. Linebacker Shaquil Barrett leads the league with 15 sacks and needs two more to break the club record held by Warren Sapp since 2000.
1. Detroit WR Kenny Golladay leads the NFL with 10 receiving touchdowns and is the first Lion reach double figures since Calvin Johnson caught 12 in 2013.
2. Tampa Bay boasts the No. 2 passing offense in the league while Detroit yields the third-most yards through the air.
3. The Lions prevailed 24-21 on the road in the last meeting in 2017 on Matt Prater's 46-yard field goal with 20 seconds left and have won four of the last five encounters.