After a disappointing loss on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a quick turnaround to play on Thursday Night Football. Even worse, they have to travel to Buffalo to take on a good Bills team. This is one of the hardest games on the Bucs schedule.
Escaping with a victory will be no easy task, but despite their two game losing streak I still believe this Bucs team is pretty good too. This should be a fun game where a few key plays determine the outcome. Here are my Skeleton Keys to victory against the Bills.
Force Josh Allen To Make long Drives
Only two quarterbacks in the NFL have more interceptions this year than Josh Allen. While the Bills star quarterback is incredible when he’s on his game, he is also prone to turning the ball over. The more passes he attempts, the more likely he is to do that.
Not allowing the splash plays is key in this game. Deep shots to his talented wide receiver group or letting Allen escape the packet and break off a big run are what makes this offense dynamic. Think of the peak of Cam Newton in Carolina and that’s what we are looking at with Josh Allen.
This might mean a more conservative game plan on defense. Keeping Allen in the pocket and getting pressure with four or five as opposed to the blitz packages that Todd Bowles is so well known for. If this passing attack is going to beat you, then it has to be death by 1,000 paper cuts.
Run The Ball? Really?
Yes! The Bills are coming into this game with starting defensive tackles Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips banged up. The linebacker group has also lost key member Matt Milano to injured reserve. Buffalo is vulnerable up front on their defense.
Even when healthy, the Bills have not been a good run defense. They rank fifth worst in rushing yards allowed and are second worst in yards allowed per carry. If the Buccaneers running game is going to get on track this year, it will have to be this week.
This might turn into a classic battle of stoppable force meets movable object. The Bucs have the worst running game in the league by basically every measure. We will see if Dave Canales can find answers this week against an opponent he should be successful against.
There are two things the Bills do very well. Protect their quarterback and get after the opposing team’s quarterback. It turns out that this is typically a recipe for success in the NFL.
The Bills rank third in sacks allowed this year behind only the Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs. I expect this to continue to a degree on Thursday, although the Bucs do have the ability to get after the passer with four. Bothering Allen with just four is critical and will put a lot of pressure on the likes of Shaq Barrett, Calijah Kancey and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to get home.
The Bills are also very good at applying pressure on the quarterback. They currently rank second in sacks behind only the Baltimore Ravens. This might not be as big of an issue on Thursday with Olive nursing a toe injury and Von Miller being listed on the injury report with a knee issue. Both will likely play, but might be ineffective against this Buccaneers pass blocking unit.