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Buccaneers vs. Steelers: Key Matchups when the Bucs are on Defense

The Bucs looked lost against the Falcons on Thursday, as they were torn apart by a competent QB. How do they prevent that from happening again?

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Grant Halverson

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have looked absolutely awful on defense this season, giving up frustrating plays to backup quarterbacks in Weeks 1 and 2, and then getting torched by Matt Ryan in Week 3.

So how do they prevent a fourth straight embarrassment? Here are a few of the key matchups for this weekend.

Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald versus Pittsburgh's left guard

Whoever is lined up across from the Steelers' left guard should be able to command a double and triple team, or get into the backfield, as that spot has been the weakest for Pittsburgh so far this season. According to PFF, the two lowest-graded linemen for the Steelers were players who lined up at left guard, so the Bucs must use that to their advantage and get after the quarterback and running backs.

So whether it's McCoy, McDonald, Spence or Bowers, the Bucs have to get the right guy lined up against the left guard, and find ways to get him upfield.

Lavonte David and Dane Fletcher versus Le'Veon Bell

Pro Football Focus has Le'Veon Bell down for 11 missed tackles forced this season, and has counted 29 missed tackles for the Tampa Bay defense so far in 2014. That means Lavonte David and Dane Fletcher have a tall task ahead of them, and a task that seems to greatly favor the Steelers on paper.

But Lavonte David is a far better tackler than what we've seen so far this year, and he can certainly play better than he has through three weeks. Fletcher is a fundamentally sound player, as well, and shouldn't have a problem sticking Bell and wrapping him up when he gets to the second level.

Both linebackers will have to account for Bell in the passing game, as well, where he's a serious threat.

Johnthan Banks versus Markus Wheaton and Antonio Brown

It's difficult to assign blame to any one player in the Tampa Bay backfield on defense, as the whole unit has been a mess through three weeks, but corner Johnthan Banks appears to be adjusting poorly to the new scheme, and will face another trial this weekend with Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton on the other side of the field.

Brown is one of the most consistent and underrated players in the league, as the short, shifty receiver knows how to get open against any coverage, and is a threat to break a big play every time he touches it. Wheaton isn't quite on that level, but he's been compared to Brown since he left college to enter the NFL Draft. Banks has to play a better game than he has over the first three weeks to have any chance of slowing down the Steelers' passing attack.