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Preview: Bucs’ red-zone efficiency is key

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The Buccaneers need to start scoring again.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Arizona Cardinals—so it’s time for a preview.

The Bucs had a mini bye week after having played Thursday Night Football last week, when they got Doug Martin back. The Cardinals got Adrian Peterson this week. Both of these players were the top two rushers in 2015.

Cardinals Defense

The Cardinals are willing to concede 25 points per game. Last week the Patriots were willing to concede 32 points per game, but the Bucs offense only managed 14 points. We will see if the trend of Winston being off on passing and missing underneath routes until the fourth quarter continues, as well as if Koetter will not use the run game more often than 40% of the play calls.

Bucs Defense

Reviewing the Cardinals’ last four games:

Ari 16, Ind 13 W

Dal 28, Ari 17 L

SF 15, Ari 18 W

Ari 7, Phi 34 L

Philly made Arizona a one-dimensional offense. The Bucs do have a stingy run defense, but the pass defense still plays a bit too soft at times. This is not a good combination against another smart and accurate QB. Last week, the Bucs faced the top ranked passing team in the league with NE’s Tom Brady. This week, they face the second top ranked passing team in the league with Arizona’s Carson Palmer. I expect to see the same deployment of defense for this game: try to stop the run and do not let Palmer beat you over top.

Conclusion

The offense remains erratic and inept on 3rd down conversions, which is the pattern for the past three games. It does not matter how porous the Arizona defense is if your offense just cannot get on track. Hopefully, Koetter actually gives the run game more than the 37% of the play calling lip service he gave the Bucs running backs last week, averaging 4.5 yards per rush. Doug Martin was averaging 5.7 yards per rush, but only had 13 carries. For the past three games, the Bucs have been averaging 18.3 points per game.

Defensively, the Bucs have been improving since week 2’s debacle. Limiting the second highest scoring team in the league to 19 points, that includes only one touchdown given up, is high praise. The Cardinals are struggling to put points on the board. It would be great to see the defense to keep the Cardinals off the scoreboard all game, but I have a sinking feeling Hargreaves or our linebackers will be abused slightly by Palmer.

Bucs 24, Ari 10

Poll

How many points will the Bucs offense score?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    0 - 3
    (1 vote)
  • 3%
    4-10
    (3 votes)
  • 5%
    11-14
    (5 votes)
  • 12%
    15-20
    (11 votes)
  • 44%
    21-24
    (40 votes)
  • 33%
    25 +
    (30 votes)
90 votes total Vote Now