Now coming off of a 38-10 statement victory over the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to once again start stacking wins en route to its goal of winning an NFC South crown. To do that, the Buccaneers stretch over the next three games is critical, and not just because they’re on primetime. Tampa Bay will be on Sunday Night Football twice (Raiders, Saints) and on Monday Night Football (NY Giants). But if Tampa Bay wants to remain in the conversation as a serious Super Bowl contender, the Buccaneers will need to roll into the newly built Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and defeat a familiar foe in former head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden, who guided Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl championship in 2003, now is guiding the Raiders in the right direction in their new digs. We take a closer look at the matchup between Tampa Bay and Las Vegas.
This defense, though
No really, this defense is for real on many levels and they are now No. 1 in yards allowed per game at 282 a contest and less than 65 on the ground. Not to mention they are holding passers to less than 200 yards per game through the air. It’s pretty impressive coming from a unit that was coming on strong last year and has continued to make its mark. Picking off Aaron Rodgers twice and flustering the future Hall of Famer was a nice notch to the defense’s belt, but now they’ll turn their focus on slowing down Derek Carr.
Brady and Gronk, the remix
We all knew this pairing would eventually get themselves right at some point during the season and the ole Brady-to-Gronkowski connection was on full display Sunday afternoon against Green Bay. Gronkowski hauled in five passes for 78 yards and did the famous ‘Gronk spike’ at Raymond James Stadium. Gronkowski is now at 17 catches for 218 yards this season and as he continues to grow into his role with the team, he becomes more dangerous in Bruce Arians’ offense.
RoJo running right
One of the biggest surprises of the Buccaneers’ offense this season is the play of running back Ronald Jones. Jones is currently third in rushing in the National Football League at 472 yards. Tampa Bay has one of the deepest stables of running backs with Jones, Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn. He’s shown the capability of being an every-down running back and now the Buccaneers know they can rely on Jones as the primary ball carrier. With Jones rushing for 113 yards against Green Bay, the Raiders will have to respect the run game and that will open up the play-action pass.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.