There are just five weeks left of the regular season. Yes, let that sink in; just five weeks. For some teams, like the Bucs, this time of year is about getting healthy and trying to play your best football heading into the postseason. For others, these are critical weeks to scratch and claw your way to a playoff spot.
The Buffalo Bills would fall into that second category. After absolutely dominating teams early in the year, the Bills have lost four of their last seven games and are barely hanging on to the last wildcard spot in the AFC. This means they are coming to Tampa Bay desperate for a victory. Here’s what to watch for.
Josh Allen Is Incredible
A dual threat talent like Josh Allen doesn’t come around very often. His ability to throw from the pocket as well as run the ball can only be compared to peak Cam Newton. And while Allen isn’t the imposing ball carrier that Bucs fans remember Newton to be, he is a significantly better passer.
Allen finished 2020 ranked 5th in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. That’s in addition to the 421 rushing yards and 8 rushing touchdowns. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s more total yards and the same number of touchdowns Newton had in his MVP season.
And while Allen isn’t quite on the same pace he was last year, he still ranks 7th in passing yards and 4th in passing touchdowns. Containing Allen on the ground and limiting him through the air is a necessity for the Bucs to achieve victory this weekend.
Talented Pass Catchers
Most would agree that the best group of wide receivers in the NFL. However, one group that could be argued for is the Bills. Their star is Stefon Diggs and he’s one of the smoothest route runners in the game. He can work his way open against anyone and that includes the big body corners that the Bucs have.
Cole Beasley is one of the better slow receivers in the league. He’s gritty, has great hands and is elusive enough to make things happen in space. Emanuel Sanders rounds out their starters as the experienced veteran of the group. Together they are crafty and extremely effective.
This isn’t a favorable matchup for the Bucs. These are the polished route runners that usually give Tampa Bay problems. Expect a long and frustrating day on defense.
What’s The Rush?
Despite having a defensive minded head coach, the Bills defense doesn’t exactly strike fear into opposing quarterbacks. Buffalo has the 27th racked pass rush when it comes to bringing the quarterback down. However, when you look at the amount of pressure they get then the numbers get significantly better.
Looking at the individual pieces, Mario Addison leads the team with four sacks. Only six players on the team have more than one sack this season. Some of those names include Efe Obada and Star Lotulelei….in case you’re not sure, there’s nothing impressive about any of those statements.
What the Bills do have is depth and size. They are strong in the trenches and can run out multiple waves of fresh defensive linemen. It’s a matchup that should favor the Bucs, but it’s also a group that you can fall asleep on.
This will be the Buccaneers last big test before the playoffs. A measurement against a good team who has looked like the best team in the AFC at times. It’s the type of team you expect to see still playing in late January which is what the Bucs are hoping to do.
I expect this to be a high scoring affair. The Bills have scored 30 or more points in seven games this year and 40+ three times. Expect this high flying offense to be on full display in sunny Tampa Bay.
The Bucs have the firepower to keep pace with anyone and Buffalo is no exception. Don’t be shocked if this game is decided by one or two big plays or whoever has the ball past.
Bills – 27
Bucs – 34