Ryan Fitzpatrick hopes to stick it to his former team and help his current squad end its five-game losing streak when he leads the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to battle against the visiting New York Jets on Sunday. Fitzpatrick, who spent two seasons with New York before signing a one-year contract with Tampa Bay in May, will start in place of Jameis Winston due to a shoulder injury that will sideline him at least two weeks.
Fitzpatrick will not have Mike Evans to target, however, as the Buccaneers’ top receiver will serve the one-game suspension he received from the NFL for violations of unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness rules in last week’s 30-10 loss at New Orleans. The 34-year-old Fitzpatrick won’t be the only quarterback facing his former team, as New York’s Josh McCown spent the 2014 season with Tampa Bay, throwing 11 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions while completing 56.3 percent of his attempts over 11 games - one victory. The 38-year-old journeyman was 14-of-20 for 140 yards in last week’s 34-21 triumph over Buffalo, throwing for one score and running for another as the Jets halted their three-game slide. New York has won eight straight meetings with Tampa Bay and 10 of their 11 all-time matchups.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Jets -2.5. O/U: 43.5
ABOUT THE JETS (4-5): Jordan Jenkins put forth a strong performance against the Bills, recording a pair of sacks - including one that forced a fumble. The effort earned the 23-year-old linebacker the distinction of being the AFC Defensive Player of the Week, making him the second member of the team (safety Terrence Brooks in Week 3) to receive the honor. New York also will be without a receiver on Sunday as Jeremy Kerley begins serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (2-6): Fitzpatrick landed his name in the Jets’ record book in 2015, when he set the franchise mark with 31 touchdown passes. “It’s very ironic,” the veteran told reporters of making his first start for Tampa Bay against the most recent of his six former clubs. “My career has been a roller coaster, and this is another example. You never want to see anyone get hurt, but I‘m going to enjoy the challenge on Sunday.” Tampa Bay replaced Evans on the roster by promoting wide receiver Freddie Martino, who made eight catches for 142 yards and a touchdown in 13 games with the team last year, from the practice squad.
1. Buccaneers LB Kendell Beckwith leads the team - and all NFL rookies - with 48 tackles.
2. New York re-signed DL Ed Stinson, who appeared in four games earlier this season before being released on Oct. 31.
3. Tampa Bay activated QB Ryan Griffin (shoulder) from injured reserve and released CB Deji Olatoye.
PREDICTION: Jets 31, Buccaneers 17