Buffalo Bills vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview

Craig Melvin/Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview

NFL

Buffalo Bills vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview

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@BuffaloBills on Twitter

The Buffalo Bills will be heading to Florida for the third time this year. This time it’s to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a familiar opponent in Tom Brady. After suffering a hard-fought loss to the New England Patriots, the Bills will be looking to rebound. The Buccaneers on the other hand will be looking to continue their three-game winning streak to four wins. Here is what to expect in this matchup. 

The last time the Bills faced Tom Brady was on Dec. 21, 2019, and it ended in a New England Patriots 24-17 win. In that game, Brady completed 26/33 passes for 271 yards and one touchdown. Now, Brady is on the Buccaneers and still playing at a high level. So far in this 2021 season, Brady has completed 68.31% of his passes for 3,771 yards, has 34 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Out of the 35 times Brady has faced the Bills he has a record of 32-3, a 64% completion percentage, has thrown for 8,669 yards, 70 touchdowns, and has thrown 25 interceptions.

Out of Brady’s 74 losses over his career, the main way to beat him is to get blitz pressure from the A-Gap so he sees the pressure coming and it forces him out of the pocket. This was seen against their losses to the Los Angeles Rams (13), New Orleans Saints (10), and Washington Football Team (13). The Bills defense does not blitz as much as those teams though as they rely on their front to generate pressure.

That won’t be as easy for this Bills defensive line as the Buccaneers offensive line has allowed the least amount of pressure in the NFL with only 60 times. They also have allowed the fourth least amount of hurries in the NFL with 24. If the Bills can generate that pressure up the middle it will most likely be from Ed Oliver who leads the defensive interior with 10 pressures and seven quarterback knockdowns.

When Brady throws the ball, his top target this season has been Chris Godwin who leads the teams with 105 targets and 949 yards. Godwin will be going up against one of the Bills’ top cornerbacks in Taron Johnson who has only allowed 25 completions and one touchdown. With Mac Jones not throwing the ball three times, the Bills defense didn’t really see how it’s going to look without Tre’Davious White. Now they will be able to, if Johnson is successful covering Godwin it will be Mike Evans that Brady turns to next and Evans is going to be covered by White’s backup, Dane Jackson.

Evans is the target for Brady to go to in the red zone as he leads the team in touchdowns with 10, so it will be interesting to see how Jackson does in this area of the field. Another tendency of Brady is he takes what the defense gives him and can just check it down to a receiver in the middle of the field. The person he tends to target there when doing so is the Buffalo area native, Rob Gronkowski. Over the last three weeks since returning from injury Gronkowski has had 17 receptions for 252 yards and the Buccaneers have been on a three-game win streak since his return. 

This Bills defense will also face a test going against this Buccaneers run game. In the Monday night game against the Patriots, they allowed 222 yards over 46 rushing attempts, it was Damien Harris who led the way with 11 yards. Now the Bills rushing defense hasn’t been horrible, but in the loss to the Tennessee Titans they allowed Derrick Henry to rush for 143 yards, and in the loss to the Indianapolis Colts Jonathan Taylor rushed for 185 yards.

Each of these running backs are physical runners, and now they will be tasked with slowing down another one in Leonard Fournette. So far this season Fournette has rushed for 665 yards with 296 yards coming after contact, and seven rushing touchdowns.

He has also been utilized in the passing game putting up 402 yards over 58 receptions, and again has 383 yards after contact as a receiver. When it comes to missed tackles for the Bills they have the 20th most with 74, so again not horrible, but in the loss to the Patriots they had 14 missed tackles in that game alone. That will need to be cleaned up if they want to slow down Fournette, between him and Gronkowski the Bills linebackers in Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds will have a busy day. 

For the Bills offense, it plays right into the weaker portion of the Buccaneers defense. The Buccaneers defense thrives on stopping the run as they have allowed the second-fewest rush yards with 1,012. While in the passing game they have allowed 2,981 yards which is the 14th most. Running the ball is not the focus of the Bills offense as they pass the ball 60.1% of the time compared to running the ball 39.9% of the time. Josh Allen should be able to find success passing the ball against a Buccaneers defense that has allowed 2,981 yards and 21 passing touchdowns.

The Buccaneers are thin in the secondary, Jamel Dean who would be covering Stefon Diggs is in concussion protocol and is questionable to play. With this, it would not be surprising to see the Bills test the Buccaneers’ depth here by going 5-wide on offense and getting another star wide receiver like Gabriel Davis involved. While Diggs is Allen’s go-to guy with 71 receptions for 898 yards, Davis has been a reliable target for Allen when he is put on the field. Out of the 19 receptions Davis has, he has accumulated 342 yards. This should be a game where the Bills passing attack is on full display. 

For this to happen the offensive line of the Bills will have to withstand this Buccaneers’ defensive front. For the Buccaneers, Shaq Barrett leads the team in sacks with 7.5, followed by Ndamukong Suh who has 6.0 sacks. With how dominant this Buccaneers defensive line is it has allowed them to get the second-most pressures in the NFL with 139.

While the Bills offensive line has dealt with injuries and having to insert backup players into the lineup they have allowed the sixth-most pressures on Allen with 124. Allen does have the ability to escape the pressure and extend plays with his legs and that will more than likely be on full display in this game. When he is in the pocket through the offense will need to buy Allen time to throw it, the Buccaneers run zone defense 65% of the time so Allen will need the time to let plays develop. 

Coming off a short week and a physical game against the Patriots it is not favorable for the Bills. Both teams know how important this game is, the Buccaneers if they win clinch a playoff spot while the Bills hope to stay in the seventh seed in the AFC. This should be a high-scoring game between how talented both offenses are and could turn into a shootout between Brady and Allen. At the end of the day, the short week to prepare for this game is the hindering factor for the Bills and the Buccaneers will walk away with a 33-28. 

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