A great defense isn’t as important as a great offense in the modern NFL, but the Buccaneers still need their defense to show up against the Colts.
The Buccaneers were able to right the ship and end their losing streak against the Giants, but the easy stretch of the schedule is over. Games against the Colts, Bills, and Saints are on the horizon, and the Colts make a compelling case as the toughest of the bunch.
You have to handy it to Indy; their coaching and roster construction have allowed for unprecedented levels of turnover, such as at the quarterback position, with little overall drop-off in success.
The Colts are within striking distance of the number one overall seed in the AFC, and this game will be a great test of where the Bucs sit against playoff-caliber opponents.
Indy has become a run-first team, and while this is far less scary than a pass-first offense like the Chiefs, it will still be difficult to fully shut down a unit that has an above average quarterback, a dominant offensive line, and a great core group of receivers.
Then you look at the running backs. Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines are currently the best tandem in the league and they have a perfect scheme for their skillsets. Taylor has found massive statistical success in recent weeks, and while his stats have been great, this is still a strength for the Bucs.
Despite the fact that Tampa hasn’t faced many great run games this season, it will always be hard to run against Tampa’s front seven. Taylor is a great back, but the best teams are defined by their quarterbacks, not their transcendent running backs in the modern era.
Wentz is a good quarterback that has been very consistent this season. Even the bad quarterbacks have found success against this defense, so shutting Wentz down needs to be the focus.
If the Colts want to run the ball for six yards per carry, the Bucs should take this as a win, largely due to the fact that it is a yard less than Wentz is averaging per throw.
The dinking and dunking offenses have given the Buccaneers plenty of headaches this season, and the Buccaneer defense will need to do everything in their power to keep the Colts off the field for as long as possible. Indy will try to control the clock, but the Bucs can handle this as long as their offense can stay fresh and score quickly despite the likelihood that they will get sporadic looks.
The good news for the Buccaneers is that this plays into their greatest strength, and while the Colts still have a great run game, history tells us that the defense will have the advantage in this matchup.
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