Bucs DT Gerald McCoy, LB Lavonte David - Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
With the momentum of consecutive wins riding high in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers head into Indianapolis in hopes of getting above .500 during the critical winter months of the NFL season.
Sunday’s game will feature a matchup between young versus old, rookie QB versus 40-year old QB, and a 5-5 Colts team that was supposed to be Super Bowl contenders versus a 5-5 Buccaneers team that was supposed to be in the cellar at this point in the season. Their paths through 11 weeks have been very different, but both teams have a lot to play for down the final stretch.
While Tampa Bay won’t treat Matt Hasselbeck, who’s 3-0 in games started in place of Andrew Luck, as a backup, the Colts sputtering offensive line presents an opportunity for the front four to get pressure on the efficient, yet limited QB. Hasselbeck has thrown for an impressive 708 yards in three games with a 65.7 completion rate and 5:2 TD to INT ratio, but his line has struggled and that’s likely an advantage for the Bucs surging defense.
Offensively, the Bucs enter with the 22nd ranked passing game, though that’s another area that’s been on the rise in Tampa Bay. Through the first seven games, Jameis Winston threw for over 240 yards three times and had seven interceptions in that span. Since then, Winston has eclipsed the 240 mark in all three games following, with just two interceptions.
Against the Colts 29th pass-defense, one that gives up an average of 278 yards through the air, the Bucs could look to throw the ball in Indy. While cornerbacks Vontea Davis and Greg Toler are physical and comfortable in single coverage, Tampa Bay will have their top duo – Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson – on the field at the same time again, and thats when they’re most successful – evidenced by last Sunday’s 246 yards and five touchdowns in Philly.
Of course, the Bucs will also have their dynamic backfield of Doug Martin and Charles Sims running against the Colts 23rd ranked run-D. Although Indianapolis’ front seven held up well against Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman last Sunday in Atlanta, giving up a combined 91 yards on the ground, this is likely the toughest one-two punch they’ve faced this season, and one thats coming off a game with 278 yards rushing.
While Martin has clearly established himself as the featured RB, Charles Sims poses just as great a threat catching out the backfield. Both players will likely be used heavily in both the running and passing game this Sunday.
A win for the Buccaneers in Indianapolis would surely turn everyone into believers and make for an exciting late post season bid. Tampa Bay has come a long way as it is, but three in a row and a trip back home to face the division rival Falcons would spark a sense of optimism that’s escaped this franchise for far too long.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) vs. Indianapolis Colts (5-5)
Sunday, November 29, 2015, 1:00 p.m. ET
Lucas Oil Field (63,000)
Network Television: FOX (WTVT Local)
Play-By-Play: Dick Stockton Analyst: Matt Millen Sideline: Peter Schrager
Bucs Radio: US 103.5, Flagship Station (103.5 FM, 620 AM & 95.3 FM)
Play-By-Play: Gene Deckerhoff Analyst: Dave Moore Sideline: T.J. Rives
Last Game: Tampa Bay Won at Philadelphia, 45-17; Indianapolis Won at Atlanta, 24-21
Pewter Report’s Predictions
Scott Reynolds: Bucs 26-20
Mark Cook: Colts 23-21
Eric Horchy: Bucs 27-20
Zach Shapiro: Bucs 24-17
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: email@example.com
Man, my Bucs are starting to get that Georgia porch dog look about them – mean and nasty! No way I’m bettin’ against these dudes. Bucs 35, Colts 17
We should win this, but any given Sunday….maybe Bucs 24-17.
the team should win as long as lovie doesnt play cover two all day and doesnt mismanage the clock and timeouts lately he has been better and making me a believer that he can change with the times
Screw Mark Cook!
Colts will let the Bucs take an early advantage. They have been down 14 or more to Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, Tennessee, New England, and Buffalo. They have come back in all of them, winning a few and taking Carolina to an improbable overtime. They are resilient in Indy, so Tampa will have to be aware of that. The key is continuing to apply pressure and play offense. Special teams are strengths for both teams and it will be an important part of the game. Limit turnovers and keep Hasslebeck under pressure. Bucs get a late touchdown and win 31-20
I often say that NFL football is more a mental than physical game. That’s why momentum can sway the outcome of games so much. Here we have a team in the Colts who, in spite of their modest record, realize they are still in contention to win their Division. There’s no doubt that they, unlike the Cowboys, believe they can still win without their star QB. Perhaps our defense can expose some age spots on Father Time and allow some doubt to infest their mindset.
As for the Mighty Bucs; there’s two paths the team can take after the recent success. As youngsters, they can think they have already reached the mountaintop and allow complacency to cloud their vision of reality or see themselves as that Little Train That Could when it realizes “I know I can.” Woo Woo!
Bucs lose a close one.33- 31 in hard fought game. Winston has great game but goes down to defeat. Martin gets over 100 and Evans too. Defense plays well but loses the game at the end.
If Martin gets 100 yards the Bucs will win.
Another close games. Bucs win by 4.
I’m worried that Hasselbeck goes all Johnny U on us. Come on McCoy, go get him! You too Jack Smith!
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