The Detroit Lions have reached the stage of the 2019 season where it doesn’t matter much who the referee is for their matchup. Even still, there are some names that fans would just as soon see the team avoid as they prepare to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Week 15.
This week, as was recently revealed by the league, the Lions and Buccaneers will get Adrian Hill as their official. If plenty of fans don’t know that name, it’s understandable. Hill is a first year referee who had been appointed to the role in 2019.
Prior to working as a referee, Hill worked his way into the league as a side judge and field judge before finally getting the call to become a full time official. He’s never worked a Lions game, but he has called a Buccaneers game before. Hill presided over Tampa Bay’s battle with the Tennessee Titans earlier this season.
As a whole, Hill is new and the Lions haven’t had a chance to get corrupted by him just yet. In a season full of notable officiating gaffes for the team, this is something to feel good about at the very least.
Injuries to Define Lions vs. Buccaneers
More than the referees, injuries might play the biggest role for this game. Not only are the Lions walking wounded for the matchup, the Buccaneers are suddenly taking on the look of one of the most dinged up teams heading into Week 15. This week alone, the Buccaneers were revealed to be down one of their top targets in wideout Mike Evans, and could be facing down another injury situation with quarterback Jameis Winston.
It sure sounds as if the Lions will miss Evans this weekend when they tangle with Tampa Bay. The elite wideout is said to be set to miss the team’s final three games of the season with what’s being called a hamstring strain.
The other Buccaneers player who could be facing an injury problem is Winston, the team’s quarterback. He appeared at a charity event on Tuesday night with a cast on his hand, but said it was preventative. During the game against the Indianapolis Colts, Winston suffered a reported fracture in his thumb, and in spite of this, the quarterback could still be expected to play for the team against the Lions.
As a whole, injuries could be a major factor in who wins the game. The safe bet could be on the Lions being dinged up and in a bad enough state to lose yet another game, which stands to prove why they are not favorites at this point in time.
Lions, Buccaneers Playing out the String
In both Tampa Bay and Detroit, things couldn’t be tougher right now even without considering the injuries. The Lions are 3-9-1 and closer to the league’s basement than at any point in the last four years. Tampa, meanwhile, has shown some fight but still remains in dreadful shape themselves at 6-7 even in spite of winning three straight games and climbing to second in their division.
Neither team is heading for the playoffs, but both are trying to build some momentum for an important 2020 season on the field. This game could go a long way toward determining who is able to make the best of a tough situation and get their season off to a winning finish.
Both sides will get to do so with a new official in 2019.