Jameis Winston will take on Matt Hasselbeck on Sunday.
It’s been a rocky year at the quarterback position for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts. The difference between the two is that the former is starting a rookie that was expected to struggle from the onset, while the latter has started a Pro Bowler who was expected to take the team deep into the playoffs this season.
Both teams are 5-5 on the year, which makes both relevant to the playoff race, but just barely. The Colts, despite hteir struggles, actually have a good chance at the playoffs thanks to the weakness of the AFC South as a division. The Colts are actually tied for the division lead despite the 5-5 record.
Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, they’re playing in a division with the undefeated Carolina Panthers and an NFC South title is basically out of reach.
But this season was always going to be about first overall pick Jameis Winston and how he looks in his first season as a starter. There was no question that Winston was going to be the starter, and he’s played well at times. He has completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 2,405 yards with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Those numbers are a little inflated due to the beatdown the Buccaneers put on the Philadelphia Eagles in their last game. Winston had his best game as a pro against Philadelphia, completing 19 of 29 passes for 246 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. The Eagles are looking historically bad on defense in recent weeks.
For Winston, a quarterback who hadn’t tossed a touchdown in the previous two games, one a loss to the New York Giants and one a win over the Dallas Cowboys, the struggles in Philadelphia are welcomed. But if you remove that game, then Winston instead is looking at 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the season.
Andrew Luck was expected to lead the Colts deep into the playoffs, but not only has he struggled on the field — he has 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, himself — he is banged up and has been all year. Luck was diagnosed with a lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle, so he won’t be playing against the Buccaneers.
Instead, 40-year-old backup Matt Hasselbeck will make the start for the Colts. Hasselbeck has played in three games this season, completing 65.7 percent of his passes for 708 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s played better than anybody expected this year, but he did throw both of his interceptions in his last game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Fortunately for him, that game was also a win. Hasselbeck is the oldest starting quarterback in the NFL, while Winston is the youngest.
Winston has relied heavily on Mike Evans this year. Evans has 725 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Vincent Jackson has just 375 yards and he has been limited by injuries. Doug Martin is having a fantastic year running for Tampa Bay, with 941 yards and three touchdowns on the year. Indianapolis has relied heavily on T.Y. Hilton, who has 724 yards and three touchdowns this season.
How to watch
When: 1 p.m. ET
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
Commentators: Dick Stockton, Matt Millen, Peter Schrager
Online: NFL Game Pass
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