It's an inter-conference matchup with a ton of history and subplots as the 4-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in Las Vegas for a renewed rivalry with the 3-2 Raiders on Sunday afternoon inside Allegiant Stadium as part of the Week 7 slate in the NFL. This game was originally scheduled for Sunday Night Football but was moved to the afternoon due to uncertainty about the game because of positive tests among some Raiders players.
It's the first time these two teams will square off since 2016, with the Raiders franchise winning seven of the 10 all-time meetings between the two. The most memorable meeting, of course, came in 2003, when the Bucs toppled the Silver and Black in Super Bowl XXXVII.
That championship encounter was dubbed the "Gruden Bowl" after Jon Gruden was traded from the Raiders to Tampa Bay, then defeated his former team in the Super Bowl. Now he's back on the sidelines with the Raiders, this time in Las Vegas. And he's coming off arguably his biggest win in his second go-round, two weeks ago against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Gruden also has playoff history against the quarterback of this Sunday's opponent. Tom Brady was the beneficiary of the infamous Tuck Rule way back in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoffs, ultimately leading the Patriots past Gruden's Raiders. Nineteen years later, they meet again, with both franchises still in search of their first playoff win since that 2002 season.
While Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs and the Raiders spoiled the Chiefs' AFC West opener in Week 5, the Bucs got the better of the marquee matchup between Brady and fellow future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. Brady avoided turning the ball over for the first time in a Tampa Bay uniform and led the way to an easy 38-10 victory with 38 unanswered points.
While Brady kept a clean box sheet (and uniform, as he wasn't sacked all day either), the Bucs defense forced Rodgers to throw his first two interceptions of the season, vaulting them to the top of the NFC South all by themselves.
Jacobs' 377 rushing yards is good for 12th in the NFL, despite the early bye week, and he leads the team with five touchdowns. He's trying to become a more all-around back in his second season, getting mentorship from Marcus Allen this year.
Tampa Bay is a 3.5-point road favorite in this one, with an over/under of 52.5, the third-highest total on the card this weekend. The Bucs lost tight end OJ Howard for the season, but Brady has a reliable insurance policy in Rob Gronkowski filling his shoes.
The big question mark for Oakland is the availability of their offensive line after a COVID-19 scare earlier this week. The Raiders placed five players on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, including four starting offensive linemen.
The Bucs, who are playing their first of three straight prime-time games, better be prepared for Vegas' best shot, who want to prove that the win over Kansas City was more than a fluke, though the lack of cohesiveness on the offensive line ends up being their undoing.
Pick: Buccaneers -3.5