With the NFL season past the halfway point, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sit atop the NFC South at 7-3. Coming off of a good team win on Monday Night Football against the New York Giants the team is still in control of the division. This week the Buccaneers travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts who are looking to make the playoffs after a 0-3 start. Lets take a look at some things to watch for in Sunday’s matchup.
For the past couple of seasons the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been one of the best teams at stopping the run game. This week they will play against the hottest running back in the league, second year stud Jonathan Taylor. He is coming off of a game where he torched the Buffalo Bills for 5 touchdowns. That insane production on the ground is why the Colts have been able to bounce back from an abysmal start to the season.
The Buccaneers have been stellar against the run again once this season but have allowed more big gains than usual. They have allowed a 100 yard rusher and chunk plays on the ground against lesser backs.
The team could be without stout nose tackle Vita Vea this week as he will be a game time decision. If the defense can contain Taylor, the Colts could be hard-pressed to score against Tampa Bay’s defense.
Next Man Up
The theme for the season has been “next man up” for the Buccaneers. They havent been a healthy team since week one and this week is no different. The offensive line will be without standout guard Ali Marpet, as he is dealimg with an abdominal injury. Thankfully the team will have Aaron Stinnie step up, he was a key player during last years Super Bowl run.
The Buccaneers will be facing off against another stud defensive lineman this week as well. DeForest Buckner is having a great year as the Colts defensive anchor on the line. Without Marpet in this week it would be smart for Tampa Bay to work some double teams against the All-Pro defensive tackle.
For the Buccaneers to win this week and earn an 8-3 record they will have to win the battle of the trenches. Stopping the run has been a priority for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for years and this week it’s priority one. Jonathan Taylor is building a late MVP case that could either explode or shut down depending on this matchups outcome. With or without Vita Vea manning the middle the defense has its work cut out for them.
On the other side, the offensive line faces a tough test yet. Without one of their absolute best players they will try and protect Tom Brady against a talented front. The Colts have a strong duo in Buckner and linebacker Darius Leonard. Both are game breaking defensive players that could alter drives by the offense. If the Buccaneers can keep the pocket clean, the zone defense should be no match for Brady and the high scoring offense.