This week it’s the battle of the B’s… Bucs vs. Bengals.
Bucs: 2-1 coming off a bye week
Bengals: 2-2 coming off loss to Cleveland
Neither team has exactly found their identity this season. After making the playoffs last year behind a strong running game, the Bengals seem to have given up the ground game and are looking to air it out. One week, the Bengals beat the Ravens (one of the top 3 teams in the league?) and the next lose to Seneca Wallace and the Browns.
Meantime, the Bucs haven’t been a lot better. They looked shaky against the Browns, dominated the Panthers and were destroyed by the Steelers. The defense played well in the first two games, but made Charlie Batch look like an all-pro in their last outing. The offense has struggled to run the ball and score TD’s in the redzone.
This week will bring some big changes to Tampa. Expect to see more from 3 rookies, RB LeGarrette Blount, WR Arrelious Benn, and DT Brian Price. This week coach Raheem Morris says all of them to get more playing time.
Blount along with Kareem Huggins (finally healthy) will cut into Cadillac Williams’ carries, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not like Caddy has been exactly tearing up (against Pittsburgh 6 carries, 13 yards). Besides, he has an injury history so lightening his load may keep him on the field longer.
With Benn on the field, Sammie Stroughter moves to his more natural position of slot receiver. I think this will help Freeman in the passing game. Used correctly, Stroughter could be the Bucs version of Wes Welker (or at least Lance Moore).
Price will hopefully take some of the double teams off of Gerald McCoy. McCoy has been disruptive, but has yet to record a sack.
The youth movement continues in Tampa.
The Bengals biggest strength is arguably their defensive backs. Leon Hall already has three interceptions on the year. He along with Jonathan Joseph, and Adam (Don’t call me Pacman) Jones make a formidable trio. While Josh Freeman has made good decisions this season, the Bengals should key on Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow forcing Freeman to look elsewhere.
That means the Bucs will need to run the ball. So far the running game has been stagnant. We’ll see if Tampa can get things going with a three-back rotation. If not, the previously mentioned terrible trio could see a lot of balls coming their way.
Last year, this game would have frightened me. I would have assumed the Bengals were just going to hand Cedric Benson the ball and he’d run all over the Bucs porous D. Luckily for Tampa, the Bengals seem hellbent on keeping TO and Ocho happy, so the balls should be flying.
The concern though if the Bengals are pass happy, it will be another test for rookie FS Cody Grimm. Grimm had some less than stellar moments against the Steelers and could be a huge liability. Carson Palmer hasn’t been great this season… but has thrown a ton of yards.
I might sound like a homer, but I think the Bucs are the better team and get better as they get younger. I like a Tampa Victory 21-17
About the Author
Written by Justin Chechourka
Born and raised in California, I inexplicably became a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan. Now I bleed red and pewter. The best part of being a Bucs fan in California... I never have to worry about blackouts.