Here's a look at three of the names to know for this game against the Buccaneers.
Nemesis: DE Jason Pierre-Paul
A familiar face for Tyron Smith lines up across from him this week when Tampa Bay travels to AT&T Stadium. Longtime New York Giant Jason Pierre-Paul was traded to the Buccaneers and will be the starter at right defensive end when these two clubs do battle on Sunday.
Tampa should feel familiar to Pierre-Paul after playing his college football at South Florida. Both Pierre-Paul and Smith have waged some epic battles during their careers when these two met before. Both might not be at their absolute pinnacle heath-wise, but it will still be a matchup that could go either way. Both players have a great understanding of how to play the other. Pierre-Paul doesn't have the initial quickness that he once processed, but his movement skills are still there.
Smith is going to need to show incredible patience when facing Pierre-Paul for just this reason. Through experience, Pierre-Paul knows that he has to avoid Smith's hands so the more movement he can throw at him will give him the best chance to get home on his rush. Look for Pierre-Paul to attempt to get Smith off balance, then work around him.
Defending the run, Pierre-Paul knows Smith's power through experience. This is an area where Pierre-Paul has a little advantage because he has a great feel for how to extend on a blocker. For a pass rusher Pierre-Paul has always been able to hold blockers in place while working to find the ball. Smith will have a hard time bullying him. Running the ball to Pierre-Paul's side has always been difficult.
Weapon: WR Mike Evans
The one constant about the Buccaneers with Jameis Winston under center is their willingness to throw the ball down the field. One of the major reasons for this attitude is due to Mike Evans on the roster.
When it comes to big play players, Evans is one of the best in the league. His size and reach make him difficult to deal with. These Cowboys defensive backs faced similar size earlier in the season when they matched up against Carolina and Detroit.
Dealing with size is one thing, but having to deal with a guy that has reach is a whole different problem. I have studied games where defenders have been in position on Evans, only to have him go over the top of them or reach around their backs for the reception.
Of the Buccaneer receivers, he is the one that does the best job when it comes to making the contested plays. Big catch radius. Evans makes plays for Winston and that's why he gives him the most opportunities. There are snaps where you see Winston just throw the ball up for grabs in Evans' direction with the faith that he will come down with it. His average of 17 yards per reception is the best of his career.
It was alarming to see the number of dropped passes that these Buccaneers receivers have, but that's not the case with Evans. Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie have to be ready for the ball going his direction regardless of the down and distance. He has sneaky speed down the field with physical play.
Under the Radar: S Jordan Whitehead
Whitehead was a nickel safety in college, but he has come in to Tampa Bay as a full-time starter. He shows nice movement skills. This is a quick-footed player that adjusts well on the move when he has to react to the ball -- both in defending the run and the pass. He is comfortable when he has to play down in the box.
Whitehead will be asked to play in coverage on these Cowboy tight ends. He has the athletic ability and physicality to handle that job without issues. He has a feel for how to play around the receiver in order to defend the ball. I have seen opponents try to isolate him in coverage and he's been up to the task. He had a nice game covering George Kittle, who has been one of the better tight ends in the league this season. He will not be afraid to run with them.
He enjoys sticking his nose in the action when it comes to playing the run. There should be several opportunities for him and Ezekiel Elliott to get to know each other in this game. Whitehead is capable of delivering a big hit as he tends to work downhill in a hurry. His tackling in college was a bit scary, but he appears to have improve since joining the Buccaneers.
This is one of those players that provides toughness to your defense. The Buccaneers have found ways to take his cornerback skills and physical play to create a nice piece to their defense. I have a sense that Jordan Whitehead is going to get better the more he plays in this league.