After their unexpected 3-1 start, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are staring down the possibility of dropping below .500 for the first time this season and losing their third straight contest. Since returning from the bye and getting healthy, things have gone into a downward spiral - and quickly.
Offensively, the Bucs are averaging less than 10 points per game since the bye and have scored just one touchdown in two weeks. Last year, with as bad as the offense was, they were scoring touchdowns once reaching the red zone 50.9% of the time. This season, they’re accomplishing that feat just 37.5% of the time - 28th in the NFL. Good news for Bucs fans, when they’re on the road the Bucs score touchdowns once reaching the red zone 66.7% of the time. For whatever reason, this 2023 Buccaneers team is better on the road than at home - and that’s by a wide margin.
Defensively, the Bucs are also starting to struggle. Despite having the best turnover ratio in the NFL the Bucs are allowing 50% of third down to be converted by opposing offenses. That’s leading to longer sustained drives and the defense wearing down deeper into the games.
On the flip side, the Bills are dealing with their own struggles. It took them until the fourth quarter to score against the New York Giants then lost to division rival New England on a last second touchdown.
However, with both these teams struggling, their biggest flaws are going to go head to head. The Buccaneers are tied for an NFL worst 3.0 yards per carry - and if you narrow that down to just the running backs it’s an even more putrid 2.8 yards per carry - while the Bills are 31st in the NFL in yards per carry allowed at 5.2. Essentially, the Bills can be had on the ground - but can the Bucs find success in their weakest aspect on the team?
Thus far, the Bucs have gone against some stout rushing defenses when you look at yards per game. Minnesota (6th - 3.6), Chicago (2nd - 3.4), Philadelphia (5th - 3.6), New Orleans (17th - 3.9), Detroit (9th - 3.7), and Atlanta (10th - 3.7). Going against a rush defense that’s as bad as their rush offense means something has to give - and if Tampa Bay can get their run offense moving, they’ll be in a solid position to work their way into a road upset in prime time.
The Buccaneers lead the all-time series 8-4, having won the most recent matchup in overtime thanks to a Breshad Perriman touchdown catch courtesy of Tom Brady. The Bucs have also won four of the last six dating back to 2000. However, this is only the third ever meeting in Buffalo where the Bills are 2-0 against the Bucs.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bucs are 8.5-point underdogs with an over/under of 43. The Bills have won 14 of their last 16 games at home and been the first team to ten points in 15 of their last 16 home games. The Bucs have failed to cover the spread in their last seven games following a divisional matchup.
The Buccaneers and Bills face off on Thursday Night at 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime with Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit on the call.