By Tom Krasniqi
The 3-9 Buccaneers hope to bounce back from last week’s clunker in Carolina when they host the 4-8 Buffalo Bills today from Raymond James Stadium at 1pm (620 WDAE, 95.3FM, 103.5FM). The Bucs are coming off a 27-6 blowout loss to the Panthers last week which snapped their 3-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Bills dropped a 34-31 overtime decision to the Falcons last week in Toronto.
Tampa Bay’s offense was stifled last week by Carolina’s defense. Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon committed two costly turnovers. Today, Glennon will face a Bills defense that ranks first in the NFL with 43 sacks. Getting rid of the football in a timely manner will be imperative.
“I think it has to be. We’ll have to do different things to slow down that pass rush because they are so good,” Glennon said this week when talking about incorporating the short passing game to nullify Buffalo’s pass rush. “We’ll have to run the ball, we’ll have to work our quick game and we’ll have to take our shots when they’re there, because it’s tough against a pass rush that good that we can’t be holding the ball all day.”
Mario Williams leads the Bills with 12 sacks but he has plenty of help. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams has 7 and defensive end Jerry Hughes has 8 sacks. The Bills have been vulnerable to the run game. Buffalo’s rush defense is 24th in the NFL (allowing 122 yards rushing per game). The Bucs need to get their running game going. Over the last two games, the Bucs have averaged just 44 rushing yards per game but this might be a good spot for Bobby Rainey to get back on track. Rainey ran hard last week but ended up with 63 yards on 17 carries.
The Bucs defense did not tackle well last week and they lost contain on Cam Newton’s 56 yard run. They’ll face rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, who has the size and running ability to make plays. Manuel has 9 touchdown passes and four INTs in 8 games so far this season. His favorite target is WR Steve Johnson, who has performed well against Bucs CB Darrelle Revis in recent years when Revis played for the Jets. Johnson has scored touchdowns in three of the last five games against Revis. Revis admits to feeling some discomfort in his chest/shoulder area but he will start today.
The Bucs will also have to contend with Buffalo’s RB tandem of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, who have combined for nearly 1,300 rushing yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. Spiller is a homerun threat who rushed for 149 yards last week, including a 77 yard scamper. The Bucs must tackle better than they did last week or it could be a long day. DT Gerald McCoy (6 sacks) and LB LaVonte David (107 tackles, 5 sacks & 3 INTs) are playing at a high level and will be leaned on heavily again today to deliver.
The forecast today calls for unseasonable warm conditions with temps in the lows 80s. The Bucs believe the heat will play in their favor at home against a team from frigid Buffalo. Doug Marrone’s team loves to run the no-huddle offense so the Bucs will have to be prepared for their up-tempo style. It will undoubtedly test the conditioning level for both teams.
The Bucs hold the all-time series advantage 6-3. The last time these teams met was back in 2009 up in Buffalo. The Bills won the game 33-20. In that game, Jackson had a field day as he ran for 163 yards on 28 carries against the Bucs.
Prediction: It will be interesting to see if there’s a hangover effect from the Carolina loss. The Bucs were physically dominated in that game and the team is worn down physically. The Bills’ no-huddle offense will give the Bucs some problems and Buffalo’s pass rush will be too much to handle. Bills win 20-17.