Bucs vs. Seahawks: Big Darn Preview

J. Meric

The Bucs make the long trip out West in search of their first victory.

The Bucs seem happier this week. Coach Schiano has some pep in his step, the team itself isn't grumbling as much (not counting Gerald McCoy's kiss my butt reference) and it looks like the Bucs defensive staff isn't as stupid as we originally thought (although the jury's still out on that one).

Revis is closer to being Revis Island again. After two months of turmoil, things seem to finally be settling down for Tampa Bay.

But they have to out West and play the 7-1 Seattle Seahawks.

Welp, that didn't last long.

Series: Seattle leads 7-4

Last Meeting: December 26, 2010 - Tampa Bay 38, Seattle 15

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Offense vs. Seattle Seahawks Pass Defense

Say what you will about Mike Glennon, he's not killing the Bucs. Is he Andrew Luck? No, of course not. But Glennon has put up decent numbers in his first four games: 106 of 181, 58.8 completion pct, 997 yds,  6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

So he hasn't been the disaster many of us expected him to be when he took over for the beleaguered Josh Freeman.

Glennon faced a tough Carolina defense last week and didn't suck but this week he faces one of the best secondaries in the National Football League.

Richard Sherman has loudly taken the mantle of best cornerback in the league from Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner locks down the other side while Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor work well together as a one-two punch.

The Seahawks get a ton of pressure with their front four, led by Michael Bennett's 4.5 sacks (yeah, we didn't need him in Tampa Bay did we?).

The Bucs rank 26th in passing offense while Seattle is 3rd against the pass.

Advantage: Seattle

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Attack vs. Seattle Seahawks Run Defense

Coach Schiano said this week that the Bucs are throwing the football a little too much. Indeed, they have....so Mike James and Brian Leonard should expect more action this week while the Bucs are still competitive in the football game.

Seattle's got a strong front seven that ranks 15th in the NFL against the run. Tampa Bay is 21st in rushing but most of that was thanks to the injured Doug Martin (Torn Labrum).

Advantage: Seattle

Seattle Seahawks Passing Attack vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pass Defense

If there's one chink in the Seahawks' armor, its been their pass protection of the mighty mouse Russell Wilson. Wilson has been scrambling for his life in recent weeks and the offensive production for Seattle has shown - especially last week in St. Louis.

The Seahawks also lost dynamic wide receiver Sidney Rice for the season and Percy Harvin isn't quite ready to return just yet.

If Revis is truly back to being Revis Island, you can expect him on the Seahawks best receiver - Golden Tate. It took Tate a little while to emerge but this season has special for the fourth year receiver out of Notre Dame. Doug Baldwin is also a player to watch in the Seattle receiving core.

Seattle will also be able to take advantage of Bucs MLB Mason Foster's weak coverage skills with TE Zach Miller.  Miller hasn't had the season he had hoped for in 2013 but he could definitely get well against Tampa Bay.

Since the Bucs have had little pass rush from their front four (again, would be nice to have Michael Bennett wouldn't it?) - they'll need to blitz, meaning plenty of opportunities for Russell Wilson to run around and make plays.

Seattle is a surprising 28th in the NFL in passing while Tampa Bay ranks a respectable 19th against the pass.

Advantage: Push

Seattle Seahawks Rushing Attack vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rush Defense

Its strength against strength in this matchup. When you have a running quarterback the likes of Russell Wilson, the rush numbers tend to get a bit skewed. Sure enough, Wilson is second on the team with 339 yds rushing.

Beastmode Marshawn Lynch is no one to be trifled with, though. Despite only having one 100 yd rushing game this season - Beastmode can run wild on you at any point.

The Bucs again are stout against the run, ranking 7th in the NFL. Tampa Bay will need to have gap discipline and not allow Russell Wilson to get out of containment. They did a very poor job of that last week against Cam Newton and the Panthers QB hurt Tampa Bay multiple times.

If the Bucs can limit Wilson's big plays with his feet and keep Beastmode in his cage, they have a chance to be successful on defense.

Advantage: Push

Special Teams

The Seahawks have the reliable Steven Hauschka handling their kicking duties. He's 16 for 17 with a long of 51. Jon Ryan is Seattle's punter, he's averaging 43.9 yds per punt.

Seattle's main returner is Jermaine Kearse, who averaging 23.4 yds a kick return. Golden Tate handles the punt return duties and is averaging a solid 10.8 yds a return

Tampa Bay's Rian Lindell has rebounded from a slow start, nailing 10 of 12 field goals including a long of 50. Michael Koenen is the Bucs' punter, averaging 42.9 yds a punt.

Eric Page handles both kick return and punt return duties for the Bucs, averaging 26.4 and 9.2 respectively.

Advantage: Seattle

By the Numbers

  • Tampa Bay has won 3 straight games in the series versus Seattle, including their last trip to CenturyLink Field.
  • Seattle has won 11 straight home games. Their last home loss was in 2011 to the 49ers.
  • The last time these teams met was in 2010 - also the last time the Bucs had a winning season.
  • Seattle has had 10 sacks in their last two games.
  • Starting QB Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon played together at NC State. Wilson transferred to Wisconsin after being benched for Glennon. They remain close friends. Wilson's NC State numbers were good - 682 of 1180 57.8% comp pct,  8,545 yds, 76 touchdowns and 26 ints. Glennon actually finished with a higher QB Rating, completing 646 of 1069, 60.4 comp pct,  7,411 63 touchdowns, 31 ints.

Outlook

How long can the Bucs stay in the game? That's the biggest question coming into this afternoon's showdown. It's an old football adage but it applies. The longer you let a bad team hang around, the more they believe they can win.

Seattle nearly got caught by that on Monday Night against their division rival the Rams.  The Seahawks could look at Tampa Bay's 0-7 record and figure they can just throw their helmet on the field and expect to win. They'd be sadly mistaken.

While the Bucs are dysfunctional - they are still playing hard be it for themselves or Coach Napoleon or whomever the next coach will be.

Realistically though, the Bucs are 16 1/2 point underdogs for a reason, folks. They would have no business beating a Super Bowl contender in a place that has perhaps the best homefield advantage.

For Tampa Bay to win this game, the Seahawks must come out flat, do some uncharacteristic things like turn the ball over and give Mike Glennon a short field and the Bucs defense must play sound, disciplined football - something we haven't seen from them all season.

Oh and the coaching staff has to stay out of the way and not make idiotic decisions and play calls (looking at you Coach Ahab).

I find that collection of events too mind boggling to imagine.

Prediction: Seattle 40, Tampa Bay 6

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