June 23, 2024

The Lions are considered strong favorites to emerge victorious over the Buccaneers in their NFC Divisional matchup. However, Baker Mayfield appears to be heading to Detroit with a notable chip on his shoulder, largely fueled by CJ Gardner-Johnson’s actions.

It’s reasonable to assume that a significant portion of NFL fans is hoping for the Detroit Lions to succeed against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The team’s recent win against the Rams marked their first playoff victory in 32 years, propelling them one step closer to the Super Bowl—a game they haven’t participated in, let alone won, since its inception in 1967.

However, it’s challenging to not support the Buccaneers, who enter the matchup as 6.5-point underdogs. The team secured its spot in the postseason, largely credited to Baker Mayfield’s performance, marking an impressive second act for the quarterback. Many had doubted him after facing challenges associated with being a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.

Despite Mayfield’s resurgence, Lions safety CJ Gardner-Johnson doesn’t appear overly intimidated. Mayfield received a subtle jab from his upcoming opponent when Gardner-Johnson commented on the Los Angeles offense before last weekend’s wild card showdown, stating, “This group probably is one of the better groups we’ve faced all year, besides that Tampa group.”

Baker Mayfield had the opportunity to counter Gardner-Johnson’s remark during a press conference on Wednesday. Mayfield hinted that Gardner-Johnson may be relying on outdated footage and highlighted that Russell Gage didn’t participate in any snaps for the Buccaneers this year due to a knee tendon injury sustained in the preseason. Mayfield, emphasizing the talent of the Tampa group, including players like Evans, Godwin, and Gage, suggested that with a skilled quarterback, they constitute an excellent unit. He stated, “If you give that Tampa group a good quarterback, that’s a great group. Evans, Godwin, [Russell] Gage, that’s a great group. I played against them for real.”

While it may not be the most intense rivalry the NFL has seen this season, the matchup between Baker Mayfield and CJ Gardner-Johnson at Ford Field promises to be intriguing to watch.

Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield

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