The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back in Indianapolis this Sunday. Last time this matchup played out, the Buccaneers won an exhilarating 38-31 shootout. The Bucs' offense was at the height of its power. Tom Brady was at the peak of his, but it was Leonard Fournette who turned in a stupendous performance. The former Buccaneers’ star was responsible for four touchdowns and over 130 yards (including the game winner). Fournette’s offensive explosion was accompanied by his Hall of Fame teammate, Rob Gronkowski, going for 123 yards on seven catches. Brady, Gronkowski, and Fournette seem like faded stars from a distant past but the game was a short two years ago.
Two years later, the Bucs are back in Indy, hoping for the same end result. Here’s what could, should, and will happen.
What could happen?
A win this week could be the start of something.
The Buccaneers’ schedule is about to get noticeably more favorable in the coming weeks. This week starts off the trend with a very middling Colts team. Tampa Bay has every bit of talent needed to defeat Gardner Minshew on the road. After Tampa’s clash with the Colts, the Bucs face Carolina (twice), Atlanta, Green Bay, Jacksonville, and New Orleans. None of the remaining teams on The Bucs’ schedule strike fear. If Tampa has any hopes of mounting a postseason push in 2023, this week could be the start.
What should happen?
The Indianapolis Colts should ride Jonathan Taylor.
Jonathan Taylor’s offseason contract situation has lingered (as these situations often do) into the regular season. Taylor has not played like himself yet this season. The Indianapolis Colts are a .500 team piloted by a backup quarterback. Indy would rather do nothing more than filter their offense through the run game and Jonathan Taylor.
On the season, Taylor has 323 yards rushing and just two touchdowns. He’s averaging under four yards per carry and hasn’t broken 100 yards at any point this season. His carries have steadily ramped up in recent weeks (12, 18, 23). Taylor hasn’t taken significant advantage of those increased opportunities but if ever there were a week where that would be likely to change it would be this week, playing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense that may be without each of its two inside linebackers. Having two backups in starter’s roles will leave the Bucs vulnerable to Jonathan Taylor’s first breakout game of the season.
What will happen?
The battle in the trenches will decide this game
This game will consist of a simple formula for both teams. The Tampa Bay Bucs’ number one offensive priority has to be controlling the line of scrimmage. Tampa is 3-1 when Baker Mayfield is sacked one time or less. On the flip side, they are 1-5 if the offensive line allows 2 or more. Considering the injuries the team will be dealing with on defense, scoring points will be as crucial as ever.
Tampa’s defensive priority has to be the same— Win the line of scrimmage. The Colts are 13-1-1 in games where Jonathan Taylor goes over 100 yards since 2020. While Tampa Bay does have an equal level of injuries in the secondary, the injuries at linebacker are likely to play a more significant role on Sunday. With Jonathan Taylor and a backup quarterback, the Colts ability to run the ball by winning at the line of scrimmage is paramount. Tampa’s defense will either win or lose this game in the trenches.
What do you think of our list? Do you agree? No? What are some things you think could happen, should happen, and will happen this week?
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