Game time: 8 p.m. ET, Aug. 28, 2021
Venue: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Where to listen: NFL Game Pass, Westwood One, Sirius XM
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Buccaneers -4, Texans +4; O/U 36.5; Buccaneers -180, Texans +155
BetMGM: Buccaneers -4, Texans +4; O/U 36.5; Buccaneers -190, Texans +160
FanDuel: Buccaneers -4, Texans +4
Bucs: 0-2 (last game, lost 34-3 vs. Titans)
Texans: 2-0 (last game, won 20-14 at Cowboys)
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Buccaneers - Texans preview and analysis
The only problem staring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the face is the backup quarterback position.
Woe is me for the defending Super Bowl champions.
Blaine Gabbert is currently the man to the rescue should anything, God forbid, happen to Tom Brady, but it’s still Blaine Gabbert. The chances of him replicating this kind of success are very slim.
But it’s another week in which the Bucs will not send their Super Bowl MVP to the preseason field, when Tampa Bay takes on the Houston Texans for the teams’ final preseason game at NRG Stadium on Saturday.
It’s not like the world needs to see Brady and the starters run against second-team defenses, but given Tampa Bay is coming off a 34-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans last week, the Bucs would like to get that part of their offense cleaned up.
Gabbert only threw six attempts on Saturday, completing three of them for 33 yards and was sacked once. Rookie quarterback Kyle Trask also completed 50 percent of his passes (13-for-26) to go with 131 yards and two interceptions in extended work. Ryan Griffin was the only one to complete more than 50 percent of his passes -- he went 6-of-11 for 45 yards at a whopping 4.1 yards per attempt.
The running game was also nonexistent for Tampa Bay. Ke’Shawn Vaughn had nine carries for 18 yards, in which the Bucs combined for 15 carries for 17 yards.
Again, no need for concern, but the NFL Preseason life is hard for teams that are in Super Bowl contention.
Which can be the furthest thing said for the Texans, who have no idea what to do in regards to running a franchise at the moment.
Good news: Houston is coming off a 20-14 win against the Dallas Cowboys for their second win in the preseason. Bad news: It’s August and the Texans still have no idea what’s going to happen with Deshaun Watson. Not even just on the field, but off it, as well.
If the season were to start today, the Texans would likely turn to veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor. No disrespect to Davis Mills or Jeff Driskel, but they’re not the better options right now in what’s likely a tumultuous offseason.
The Texans are going to have to rely on their ground attack to accomplish anything offensively, You know who would be good on this team? Deandre Hopkins.
But the running game is crucial, and the Texans seem to have a confident 1-2 punch with Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram. The former Heisman Trophy winner Ingram ran for a first quarter touchdown in the win over Dallas.
Nevertheless, it’s going to be a tough time for Texans fans. I honestly don’t know how they get through another season of this.
We know how good Tampa’s offense can be with everyone intact. The backups are another story. The Bucs have scored a total of two touchdowns in two preseason games, both in the opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. No one, except for Vaughn, has been a standout.
The Texans are in that same mold; they’re nowhere as good if Watson doesn’t play. Watson led the league with 4,823 passing yards and Houston had the fourth-best passing attack in the league for a 4-12 record. What you’ve seen to this point is what it’ll look like with a full season without Watson.
Tampa Bay’s preseason defense has not been good. The Bucs allowed two passing touchdowns from Matt Barkley last week, and a young man by the name of Logan Woodside also threw a touchdown pass. It’s bad when Matt Barkley is throwing touchdowns in 2021.
Houston’s defense has been getting it done in stints. The unit held the Green Bay Packers to seven points in the preseason opener, then also had an interception returned for a touchdown by Lonnie Johnson Jr. against Dallas. That’s at least one brightspot.
No starters likely, give me Houston’s running attack and defense in the win. Texans win 24-17.
The Bucs are 37-16 against the spread (+19.4) in their last 53 when allowing 14 points or less. Houston is 4-21 ATS (-19.1) in their last 25 when scoring 14 or less.
The under is 39-17 in the last 56 Tampa Bay games (+20.3) when the Bucs are favored.
Players to watch
Buccaneers: Look for third-year wideout Tanner Hudson to get some more run on Saturday. Hudson caught six of his seven targets for 74 yards, including a 26-yarder.
Texans: 2019 fifth-round pick Charles Omenihu had two sacks last week against Dallas. He had four all of last season. For a team in desperate need of pass-rushing, Omenihu could be someone to keep an eye on.
Statistical leaders from last week
Passing: Kyle Trask -- 13-of-26, 131 yards, 2 INT
Rushing: Ke’Shawn Vaughn -- 8 carries, 18 yards
Receiving: Tanner Hudson -- 6 catches, 74 yards
Defense: Grant Stuard -- 6 tackles
Passing: Davis Mills -- 10-for-16, 115 yards
Rushing: Mark Ingram -- 7 carries, 24 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Chris Moore -- 2 catches, 33 yards
Defense: Lonnie Johnson Jr. -- 1 INT, 1 TD
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