The Tampa Bay Buccaneers(3-3) travel to Cincinnati to face the dynamic Cincinnati Bengals(4-3) in a critical week eight match-up.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to face back to back AFC North opponents after a roller-coaster win against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. The Bucs struggled to put away the Browns at home and gave them every opportunity to win. Another performance like that on the road will more than likely end with a loss.
The Bengals are a tough match-up for this Bucs team that has yet to play a complete game through six weeks. Have no fear as this game is very winnable for the Bucs. To do so, they must win these key match-ups.
Winston vs Bengals Pass Defense
Jameis Winston and one of the leagues top passing attacks can feast on the Bengals pass defense that’s giving up over 300 yards per game. The Bengals are giving up over seven yards per completion and the Bucs lead the league with over ten yards per completion. Also, the Bengals linebackers struggle to stop tight ends. They have allowed 48 catches to tight ends, which is the league high. That’s excellent news for the Bucs’ fantastic duo.
Winston has thrown for over 300 yards in both his starts, but he also averages two and a half turnovers a game. His turnover rate has to improve to win especially on the road. Turnovers need to stop sooner, rather than later.
Mark Duffner’s Defense vs Andy Dalton and A.J. Green
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense finally displayed the ability to get multiple stops in Mark Duffner’s first game as defensive coordinator. He came into the game versus the Browns with a solid game plan that the players could execute. They played flawlessly in the first half and held the Browns offense to under a hundred yards.
This week he faces a Bengals offense that has a multitude of weapons. With that said, Duffner must have a plan to disrupt the connection between Andy Dalton and his favorite target, A.J. Green. Dalton is coming off a humiliating performance against the Chiefs and is looking to redeem himself. If the Buccaneers want to give themselves a chance at slowing down the Bengals offense, they need to have an answer for Green.
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Tampa’s Rush Defense vs. Cincinnati’s Run Game
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are heading into Cincinnati with the number four ranked rush defense. With the Bengals ranking 26th in rushing, controlling the line of scrimmage shouldn’t be a very tall task for the Bucs defensive line. Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon isn’t as explosive as some of the opponents Tampa has faced this season.
Mixon has 386 rushing yards on the season with his biggest play from scrimmage being a 31-yard run. With only five rushing touchdowns on the season for the Bengals, the Bucs should be able to control the run game on the defensive side of the ball even without Gerald McCoy and Vinny Curry.
Rod Thurman is a contributor for Full Press Coverage covering his beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Follow him on twitter @Bucboy for everything Bucs and anything football.