The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to win this week if they’re going to stay in the thick of the NFC South race. Standing in their way are the Indianapolis Colts who are trying to stay in a divisional race of their own.
Also standing in the Bucs’ way is the list of key players they have injured - and may not be able to suit up on Sunday. Lavonte David, Devin White, Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, Chris Godwin, and Tristan Wirfs all suffered injuries against the 49ers. David, White, and Dean have yet to practice this week while Davis, Wirfs, and Godwin have all participated in some capacity.
If the Bucs are going to win, they certainly need those players on the field - especially against the likes of Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman Jr., and emerging threat Joshua Downs. On the flip side, having Wirfs there to protect Baker Mayfield and Chris Godwin eating up attention will be vital if the offense is going to take advantage of the team that has allowed the fifth most total explosive plays and the fifth most explosive passing plays in the NFL this season.
Up until their last game, which they won 10-6 against the New England Patriots, the Colts were the only team in the NFL to score at least twenty points per game this season - and that’s with Gardner Minshew at the helm in place of rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson who was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. While the Colts are averaging 24.2 points per game, the Bucs are allowing just 20.0 - 9th best in the NFL. However, the Colts’s defense is allowing 24.8 points per game - 26th in the NFL - while the Bucs are scoring just 19.2 per game.
Mike Evans, who could be in line for a big day against a bad Colts secondary, is just 220 yards away from his tenth consecutive 1,000 yard season to start his career - extending his own NFL record. Though, Rachaad White has emerged as one of the biggest pass catching threats on the team, hauling in 41 passes which is the second most by a running back this season behind only Christian McCaffrey.
All eyes, however, will be on the statuses of Lavonte David and Devin White. The Bucs already promoted linebacker J.J. Russell from the practice squad in preparation that at least one - maybe both - won’t be available in this must win game. Bucs fans will get a good look at rookie SirVocea Dennis who popped off the screen as a player for the Pitt Panthers, but has seem limited action as a member of the Bucs.
The Bucs have an opportunity to tie up the all-time series this week as the Colts come in with an 8-7 advantage. The Buccaneers won the last time they traveled to Indy in 2021 as Leonard Fournette exploded for four touchdowns and helped spark the come-from-behind victory for Tampa Bay. The Bucs have won three of the last four dating back to 2011 with only one of those wins coming on the road. At home, the Colts are 5-3 but are 2-2 in their last four at their own stadium.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bucs are 2.5-point road underdogs in this one with an over/under of 44.5. The Bucs have covered in their last four games while seven of their last eight have hit the under. The Colts have lost nine of their last ten games at home.
The Buccaneers and Colts kickoff on Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium at 1:00 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on CBS with Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta, and Amanda Renner on the call.