The Tampa Bay Buccaneers square off against the Indianapolis Colts in a game that some feel could get ugly fairly quickly. The Colts hung with the Steelers last week, but odds are not good they can consistently hang with better opponents.
While that could make for a dull game this week, 49ers fans have plenty of reason to check out the game. The Bucs travel to San Francisco on a short week for a week five contest this Sunday. The 49ers are coming off a huge win over the Eagles and a Bucs win tonight would match up a pair of 3-1 division leaders. A win over the Bucs would send the 49ers to Detroit at 4-1 and a chance to start making some serious noise in the league. There is a lot of work to be done to get that W, but it's there for the taking.
In the meantime, we can watch the Bucs tonight and try to figure out what they bring to the table. They have a lot of talented players and are going to be in the thick of the playoff race up to the end. They lost their opener 27-20 to the Detroit Lions at home, came from behind to beat Minnesota in week two, and followed that up with a strong win against the Atlanta Falcons.
While watching the game tonight, there are plenty of things to keep an eye on. The skill position players are of course always a must with the likes of Josh Freeman, LeGarrette Blount, Kellen Winslow, and Mike Williams. A little more "under the radar" includes Earnest Graham who has been one of Freeman's favorite targets and leads the team with 20 receptions. Preston Parker has been their most consistent deep threat, averaging 13.9 yards per reception.
The offensive line has been solid in pass protection but not so solid in the running game. The o-line ranks fifth in Adjusted Sack Rate but 20th in Adjusted Line Yards. The line and backs have had problems getting stuffed, which is a big reason for the relatively low rushing ranking.
On defense, the Bucs haven't forced a ton of turnovers, don't seem to get a ton of pressure on the quarterback and aren't spectacular against the run, and yet they have managed to keep on winning. They are ranked ninth in the league in points allowed per game (20.0) and potentially will improve upon that tonight against the Colts. Their d-line ranks 28th in Adjusted Sack Rate, and their six sacks are divided up between five players. I think the Bucs attempts to pressure Curtis Painter is as important as anything else to watch tonight.