Buccaneers and Colts play measuring stick game in Week 12

Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports /

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will head to Indianapolis this Sunday to take on the Colts in an inter-conference tilt. The game is significant because both teams are battling for playoff positioning. It is also a measuring stick for two teams that more was expected of.

Sure, the Bucs are in first place by 2.5 games after the Buffalo Bills thoroughly dominated the New Orleans Saints on Thanksgiving night. Then again, they have yet to prove they can beat the Saints in the regular season. They will get that opportunity at home in Week 15 to get that sore spot taken care of.

The execution, particularly in the red zone on offense in 2021, just has not been as effective as it was supposed to be this season. Year two of Tom Brady was the one where the Bucs would be an offensive juggernaut we were told. Yet, we are ten games in, and even head coach Bruce Arians has to admit this team could and should be so much better.

Days after beating a bad New York Giants team, it would be great for the Bucs to play someone to truly measure where they are. Enter the Colts, thought to be Super Bowl Contenders coming into 2021, and who started the year 0-3 before turning things around by winning six of eight, including their last three. The Colts have signaled that they may have something to say about who gets to the Super Bowl from the AFC by trouncing the Bills in Buffalo, 41-15 last week.

Quarterback Carson Wentz has been measuring up recently by playing well in the last few contests for the Colts, and running back Johnathan Taylor leads the NFL in rushing so far with 1,122 yards and scored five touchdowns against a Buffalo. Wentz has a lot of options in the air as well. Receivers Michael Pittman, Zach Pascal and T.Y. Hilton as well as tight ends Mo Alie-Cox and Jack Doyle force defenses not to focus on just one target.

Defensively, Bobby Okereke leads in tackles but the heart and soul of the Colts defense is fellow linebacker Darius Leonard. Leonard is second in tackles and interceptions for Indianapolis and is a wrecking machine who can seem like he is everywhere on the field. Cornerback Kenny Moore is a solid tackler and opportunistic ball hawk in the secondary.

Ultimately, the Buccaneers will have to neutralize the Colts best enough to show they can beat a solid and improving team on the road in what will be a raucous Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts, on their side, now feel like they have found the keys to success and are playing with confidence at this point in the season. We all get to find out on Sunday who is measuring up to their lofty preseason expectations.

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