2008 Bucs' Schedule: PNG

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Talking Plank - Week 12

The Talking Plank - Week 12

Saints At Bucs:

The Bucs begin a 3 game NFC South stretch that can define their playoff position, or could end their playoff run before it starts. The Saints just got off a Monday Night game against the Packers, one in which they ran up the score. Now the Bucs need to take revenge for their game 1 loss and take control of their Division.

On Offense, the Bucs come in ranked 12th overall (342.8y/g), 16th in points (23.4/g), 11th passing (227.6y/g), and 13th rushing (115.2y/g). The Saints come in ranked 22nd in total defense (345.9y/g), 24th in points allowed (25.3/g), 24th against the pass (235.1y/g), and 18th against the run (110.8y/g). The Bucs were able to put up some yards and points against the Saints in week 1, despite really poor play from Garcia, which ended up in his benching. Since then, Garcia has started to play like the Garcia from early last season. He's starting to take more chances, and starting to attack down field more. Now the Bucs, having come back, yet again, on the road, come home where they are 5-0. Dunn will continue to be the primary runner, but Williams will likely start to get more carries, and more opportunities in the passing game. With both runners, the Bucs should be able to mix it up enough to make it tough on the Saints' defense to key on the runners, assuming Gruden does leave Williams in on enough pass plays to keep them honest. Alex Smith may be available for the game, but will be a game time decision, but Stevens can abuse the Saints, who can't match up. The Bucs will likely focus on attacking the Saints through the air to open up the running game, and to attack the endzone. Bryant, Clayton, and Hilliard should be able to take advantage of this secondary. If Garcia continues to attack more, and hit the receivers that are open down the field, the Bucs will score points, and score plenty. The Saints only have 20 sacks, and I don't expect him to be under too much pressure. If he keeps his cool and stays upright, he should have a good game, and the running game should augment the passing game enough to score well over 20 points.

On Defense, the Bucs are ranked 4th overall (274.7y/g), 3rd in points allowed (16.4/g), 2nd against the pass (174.6y/g), and 13th against the run (100.1y/g). The Saints' offense is ranked 1st overall (411.9y/g), 3rd in points (28.8/g), 1st passing (319.5y/g), and 27th rushing (92.4y/g). The Bucs played somewhat poorly against the Saints the first time these teams met. Since then the defense has become much better, and been very good against a plethora of highly rated offenses. The Bucs are currently holding opposing QB's to a 71.4 passer rating, and look to have a better game against Brees than the first time. They've recently gotten a much better pass rush, but this has been against weaker offensive lines. The Saints have only allowed 9 sacks all year, with one coming from the Bucs. Brees was able to hit some big plays in this game, and the Bucs must be weary of that happening again. Look for the Bucs to start, as always, with the running game, and then to try and put some pressure on Brees. I expect some creative blitzing, and aggressive play by the offensive line. The Saints aren't nearly as good on the road as they are in the dome, and the Bucs only lost game 1 by 4 points and were driving for the winning score when Garcia threw a pick. So the Saints can be slowed down, and I expect the environment at Ray Jay to be tough enough for the much improved defense to take the Saints down a notch. I can see a couple of picks in this game. Bush is not nearly as fast on the grass as he is on turf, and I believe the Bucs will slow him down dramatically. While I don't expect the defense to stuff the Saints, I do expect them to slow the Saints down. This may be helped out by our offense holding the ball for long periods of times and keeping the Saints' offense off the field.

On Special Teams, the Bucs are averagin 9 yards per punt return (18.1 by Smith) and 25.2 yards per kick (30.3 by Smith). The Bucs are allowing 9.5 yards per punt and 20.9 yards per kick. The Saints are averaging 19.8 yards per punt and 23.3 yards per kick, while allowing 11.7 yards per punt and 23.3 yards per kick return. The Bucs will definitely have to work hard to shut down the Saints' punt return teams, but, at the same time, the Bucs should be able to take advantage of the Saints' coverage units. Smith could be a factor in this game. Whether or not Bush, who is averaging 10 more yards per punt than Lance Moore, will return punts or not is questionable. He expects to play and perform in all facets, but we'll see. Both punters are excellent, so there's no significant advantage for either team. The Saints are on their third place kicker, so it will be interesting to see the impact here. The Bucs are probably the team most likely to benefit from the field position battle, but the Saints can get great position as well, especially if Bush returns punts and the Bucs struggle to stop him. Hopefully, the home field advantage will play out here.

In the end, the Saints have to come here, on the road, on a surface that negates some of their speed, and face a much improved Bucs' team that nearly beat them in game 1. Look for the Bucs to come out hitting and making plays. The Bucs win this game and start to take control of the South.

Bucs 24 Saints 17

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ronde Named NFC Defensive Player Of The Week

Ronde Barber was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week due to his two interception performance, with one being returned for a TD, and the other setting up a TD drive.

This was clearly an overdue performance, as Barber was getting picked on repeatedly, and has begun to show signs of slowing down. Whether or not this performance will launch him forward and impact his play in the future games is a big question mark. If it does, however, it will certainly help this team's defensive play down the stretch.

The Bucs could certainly use a more effective Barber to help solidify the pass defense further and make this team a dominate defense for the play offs. We'll get to see real quick if it does with the Saints coming to town. If this team can markedly improve it's defensive effort against the Saints over what it did in the first game, that will be a real good sign. We shall see.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bucs Beat Lions 38-20

Well, I haven't been able to see the whole game, just a lot of highlights, and a scouring of the game book. As such, I won't do a full review of this game. What is obvious, though, is that this team, more than any team in Bucs' history, at least to my recollection, is capable of coming back from just about any deficit. The Bucs were down 17-0 in the first quarter, primarily off blown coverage and a fumble return for a TD.

The Bucs came back, scoring 21 points in 9 minutes. Garcia actually attacked early during this stretch hitting for a couple of deep TD passes. Dunn ripped off a long TD run. And Smith did it again by returning a punt for a TD. Before you knew it, the Bucs were up 35-17 before both teams finished their scoring with field goals.

The defense had problems stopping the run early, but then shut the running game down. Barber, who got picked on early, intercepted two passes, setting up a quick TD pass on one, and returning the other for a TD. Together, all three phases continued to be effective overall and led the effort.

Now the Bucs gear up to face the Saints who just ran the score up on the Packers last night. The Saints are 1-4 on the road, and the Bucs are certainly looking for a little revenge after the season opening loss. The Bucs follow this game up with games against the Panthers and Falcons. The next three games could make or break the Bucs' playoff aspirations. If the Bucs can pull off wins against all three, they'll be in the driver's seat for a BYE in the playoffs and will have likely won the division (Panthers would need one more loss to guarantee that). Should be interesting down the stretch, and the Bucs may actually have something to play for down the stretch.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Talking Plank - Week 11

The Talking Plank - Week 11

Bucs At Lions:

After making a tight game out of what should have been a blow out, the Bucs now travel to Detroit for the classic trap game. This is a team they should handle, but the Bucs have had troubles taking care of Detroit in the past, including last year. Detroit...umm...sucks. But hey, let's look at the match-ups.

On Offense, the Bucs come in ranked 9th overall (351.6y/g), 21st in points (21.9/g), 8th passing (236.5y/g), and 14th rushing (115.1y/g). The Lions are ranked 31st in total defense (402.1y/g), 31st in points allowed (30.8/g), 23rd against the pass (230.6y/g), and 32nd against the run (171.5y/g). The Lions will not have the two defensive linemen that gave the Bucs a lot of trouble last year. Shaun Rodgers is gone, and Dewayne White is out for this game. The Lions have only managed 17 sacks, and are on pace to have given up 2000+ yards on the ground in after this game and the next. The Bucs will need to take advantage of the Lions' run defense, and their knowledge of the defense in general. The Lions will have a really hard time producing sacks against an offensive line that has only given up 11 sacks all season. With the lack of real size on the Lions' DL, the Bucs should be able to get some movement up front and generate some nice holes. The Lions' linebackers are quick, but undersized, and can be moved by our tight ends and fullbacks. The Lions' secondary isn't very good, and only has one of the Lions' meager 2 picks. This is a team the Bucs' offense should be able to take advantage of as long as Garcia doesn't play tentative and fail to take advantage of the plays that are there. I expect Dunn to be the main ball carrier, but also expect to see Caddy activated and used for a 5-10 plays in the game. Smith will likely get carries as well, but needs to hold onto the ball...something they worked on during the week. The Bucs' receivers should be able to take advantage of this secondary and havfe a pretty big game. In the end, I expect the Bucs to rack up the yards and score some points.

On Defense, the Bucs defense is ranked 5th overall (281.5y/g), 4th in points allowed (16/g), 4th against the pass (182.2y/g), and 12th against the run (99.3y/g). The Lions' offense is ranked 28th overall (276.9y/g), 28th in points scored (17.3/g), 22nd passing (196y/g), and 30th rushing (80.9y/g). The Lions will be without their starting Center again, and will apparently be going with Culpepper at QB. The Bucs will need to pay attention to Johnson,and keep the deep ball from being a major weapon against them. Beyond that, the Bucs' defense should be able to corral the Lions' offense. They'll start with containing Kevin Smith. If they accomplish that, they should be able to get after Culpepper. The Lions' have given up 37 sacks so far this season. While their line is big, they seem to have problems dealing with athletic lineman and can't seem to consistently open holes. If the Bucs can contain Peterson, they can contain Smith. The Lions' various QB's have also coughed up 12 picks, and are -7 in turn over ratio. If the Bucs can keep the Lions' from hitting on the big plays, and keep the running game in check, the Lions' will be lucky to score more than 10 points.

On Special Teams, the Bucs are averaging 7.5 yards per punt and 24.8 per kick return, while allowing 9.3 yards per punt, and 20.7 yards per kick. The Lions' are averaging 8.9 per punt and 21.4 per kick, while allowing 7.1 per punt and 21.1 per kick return. The Bucs are slightly better in the punting area with Bidwell, while Hanson is a better kicker. Bryant is still reasonably reliable, though. The Bucs should be able to continue to get excellent results from Smith, and look to continue to do better against opponent return teams. Field position shouldn't be too big of a deal in this game, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Bucs get a big return from Smith in this game.

When it comes right down to it, barring the Bucs having a blow-up, they should be able to beat up on the 0-10 Lions. The only concern I have is that the Lions don't have anything to lose and will pull out every stop. I think the Bucs will be ready for them after what happened with the Chiefs. I see a big win in this game.

Bucs 27 Lions 10

Blogging From WV

I haven't had time to blog about the last game and some of the happenings for the Bucs this week. The reason is the rather large number of things I had to take care of this past week in preparation for a trip to WV with the wife and kid.

Now that I'm here, I have time to mention that losing Graham for the year really sucks. He was the team's power back, and we saw the results of not having that short yardage power back. Luckily, Williams may be ready to go down the stretch, and Askew can fill in for short yardage as well. The Bucs will really need to get Caddy going if they are going to get back to being successful on the ground. Dunn is an excellent scat back, and Smith is one as well, but Graham was the guy that got the yards even when defenders hit him. Caddy can do that as well, though maybe not as well, and has more power than Dunn or Smith. But if he goes this week, they'll be testing that knee on an artificial surface at Ford Field. Let's hope Caddy can come back and carry a few times to help relieve the load. Don't need Dunn to get overloaded on the carries.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Talking Plank - Week 10

The Talking Plank - Week 10

Vikings At Bucs:

The Bucs are coming off a much needed BYE week, one that was proceeded by the largest comeback victory in franchise history. Now the Bucs get the 5-4 Vikings, who have the best running back in football. Will they be able to stop the run? Will they be able to run on the Vikings' top tier run defense?

On Offense, the Bucs come in ranked 9th overall (350.3y/g), 16th in points (22.2/g), 9th passing (234.4y/g), and 11th rushing (115.9y/g). The Vikings' defense comes in ranked 6th in yards allowed (289.3y/g), 20th in points allowed (23.9/g), 19th against the pass (219.2y/g), and 3rd against the run (70.1y/g). The Vikings appear to have a top notch run defense, and the two Williams inside have a lot to do with that. The Vikings have been mixing players at the MLB spot, so if the Bucs can get the blocks on the Tackles, then they should be able to exploit the linebackers of the Vikings. Where the Bucs will need to concentrate, though, is in the passing game against a suspect secondary. The Vikings have some decent players, but teams have been able to beat them through the air. If the Bucs go that route, they must be able to keep Garcia off the ground, as the Vikings have piled up 25 sacks so far. Thankfully, their best rushers, K. Williams, and Allen, come at the left side of our line, the side that is strongest in pass pro, and is part of the reason why the Bucs have only allowed 10 sacks all season. What will be interesting to see is if Graham goes or not. If he doesn't look for Caddy to be activated and possible get a couple of carries. If Graham goes, Caddy will be deactivated, and the Bucs will stick with Smith as the third option. Dunn may be the Bucs' best weapon out of the backfield, as he has the speed to exploit the Vikings' back 7 if he get's passed the line or catches the ball past the line in open space. I see the Bucs pushing hard to establish the run while also trying to open up the passing game early and pull the safeties out of the box and keep the corners backed up. If Garcia can hit a few deep passes (with the past 2 weeks he better!) the Bucs will be able to force the Vikings to stop the run with the front 7, and the Bucs have the horses up front to win that battle. Look for the offense to move the ball well at times, and hit a few big plays, leading to a healthy amount of scoring.

On Defense, the Bucs come in ranked 7th overall (289.4y/g), 4th in points allowed (16.3/g), 5th against the pass (190.1y/g), and 11th against the run (99.3y/g). The Vikings come in ranked 14th overall (344.3y/g), 14th in points (23.3/g), 21st passing (200.3y/g), and 5th rushing (144y/g). The Bucs will be geared up to stop Peterson and force Frerotte to beat them with the Vikes' crappy assortment of receivers. The Vikings aren't especially potent through the air, and are less so if you slow down that running game. If the Bucs can hold their own with the front 7, or with just one safety up close, the Bucs should be able to slow the Vikings' offense down. Until last week, the Bucs hadn't given up 100 yards to a single rusher. I'm sure they are pissed about that, and they are at home where Peterson won't enjoy the artificial turf, and where the Bucs' defense plays best. The Vikings have given up 23 sacks so far, and the Bucs have cooled off in the sack department. It's time for them to get the rush going again, and that could happen as the Vikings employ a pair of mammoth, though slower footed, tackles on the offensive line. If Adams and White can keep the big guys from getting that initial leverage on them, they should be able to beat them with their speed. If that happens, Frerotte could be eating a lot of Bermuda. I have a feeling the defense is going to really get after it in passing situations. I'm leary about stopping Peterson, but the Bucs have proven they can stop the running game and I think Peterson will have a good day, but not good enough.

On Special Teams, the Bucs are averaging 7.5 per punt return and 25.1 per kick return, while allowing 9.3 per punt and 20.7 per kick. Keep in mind that Smith is averaging 15.6 per punt and 32.7 per kick with a kick return for a TD against the Chiefs. The Vikings come in averaging 5.3 per punt return and 22.5 per kick, while allowing 18.1 per punt and 22.5 per kick return. Needless to say, the punt return team of the Bucs should have a very decisive edge against the punt units of the Vikes. We could see Smith return a punt for a TD, or at lest break some big returns. The Bucs should be able to get a consistent advantage in field position in this game. When it comes to kicking, Longwell has problems with kicks between the 30 and 50 yard mark. Beyond 50 and under 30 he's money. Bryant, of course, is better at the ranges under 50, but has yet to make a 50+ kick (only 2 tries). So it's more likely the Bucs will get the FG's than the Vikes for the typical range kicks. Both punters are excellent, but the Vikes have a slight edge with Kluwe. I believe our special teams will be the better unit, and I can see a return for a TD in this game, along with a lot of big returns.

The Vikings are a challenge, but the Bucs should be up for it at home after a BYE. I think they will slow Peterson down enough to force the Vikings to pass more than they would like, and the defense will take advantage with some picks, while the offense will get it done, for the most part.

Bucs 24 Vikings 17

John Lynch to Retire a Buc on Monday

The Bucs will have a press conference on Monday to retire John Lynch as a Buc and to add his jersey to the Ring of Honor that will be unveiled next year. I don't know if the Bucs have any plans to trot him out during one of the games or not, but I would not be shocked.

It's nice to know that he's coming back to retire here, as one wonders how he truly feels about this organization after he left. I think he may have realized this year that any team will dump you when you appear to be beyond playing at the level you expect. Many forget that Lynch's play really dropped off during the second half of 2003, and the Bucs were weary of his neck injury, but still wanted him back as long as he took a paycheck and agreed that he would have to battle Phillips for his job. He wasn't willing to play here if he wasn't guaranteed the starting spot, and the Bucs then let him go.

While some teams passed on him, due to his neck, the Broncos took a shot on him, and he played again for 4 more years, though it was clear that his coverage skills had dropped. He mostly made the Pro-Bowl on reputation and the vicious hits he continued to exert on people.

He's a fan favorite and it will be great to see one of the best safeties to ever play come back here to retire.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Caddy Activated; Bennett Cut

The Bucs activated Williams to the 53 man roster and cut Michael Bennett to make room for him. Bennett continued to struggle in blitz pick up situations which made it tough for him to stay on the field. As such, the Bucs cut him to make room for their franchise back, whom they hope will make a big comeback and round out his game, something he was working on before he blew out his knee.

With Graham not practicing, and Dunn still ailing from a pinched nerve in his back, Williams will likely be active on Sunday and may get some carries. Right now it's all about what kind of shape he is in. If he's in good shape, he may get more carries than some would expect, but I think they will take it easy and get him 5-10 carries at most.

Should be interesting to see how well he does.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Will Caddy Be Activated?

One has to wonder, with Graham and Dunn nursing injuries, whether or not the Bucs plan to activate Williams and use him on some plays Sunday. So far it appears that he will definitely be elevated to the 53 man roster, and appears to be working out hard to get into football shape. Having taken some hits this week, and believing that the knee is stronger now than before the injury, it shouldn't take too long before he can get in shape and have at least some impact.

What may be more critical to the Bucs' running game, however, is the status of Askew. His blocking and receiving have been sorely missed, and forced Graham into a "do it all" role. Cook is OK, and allows Graham to run more, but Cook's blocking isn't in the same league as Askew's. If Caddy does get some reps, it will be better if Askew is out there to open some holes.

In any case, the Bucs will need to find a way to get their running game going again, though they may have to start completing more plays over 30 yards in length (through the air, that is) so they can get defenses stretched again. Teams are daring us to beat them deep, and Garcia's been missing or failing to throw the passes. If Caddy comes back, he may not have room to run if the Bucs can't get that safety out of the box on more occasions.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Clifton Smith Named NFC Special Teams Player

Smith earned the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award after his excellent game against the Chiefs. As I mentioned in my review, he tore it up in both punt and kick returns, and ripped off a crucial 97 yard kickoff return for a TD when the Bucs were down and almost out. That return helped them get back up and fight to tie, and eventually win, that game.

It would appear that Smith has already started to cement himself as the starting returner for the rest of the season. If he keeps giving the Bucs this kind of field position, the Bucs will likely continue to win.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bucs Beat Chiefs In OT: 30-27

Now that I have time, the Bucs sure managed to pull that game out of their *BEEP!!*! Needless to say, it wasn't pretty. The Bucs basically stunk outright for most of the first half, then played well and like crap during the second half. But, in the end, they won.

Offense: First offensive play for the Bucs and Graham fumbles after gaining 4 yards. Not good. The Bucs got down so quick on the scoreboard that they were unable to really concentrate on the running game and take advantage of KC's inability to stop the run. KC also consistently commited a safety to stop the run, which made it even more difficult. Garcia continues to have issues getting the ball down the field. On one shot, he missed Galloway, who had his man beat going into the endzone, by throwing behind him to the point that the defender almost picked it off. Garcia also failed to either see or throw the ball to receivers that were open on a number of plays, prefering to check down. Thankfully, he still managed to get it done and threw a TD pass to Antonio Bryant and then hit Smith for the 2 point conversion which sent it to overtime. Clayton made some big plays catching 4 passes for 57 yards and making several big blocks. He also had a short catch, in OT, where he broke the tackle and went down the sidelines for 29 yards. Hilliard hauled in 6 passes for 55 yards, and Bryant led the receivers with 8 passes for 115 yards and a TD. Smith also hauled in a TD pass from Graham who faked a blast play and threw the halfback pass to a wide open Smith. In the end, the Bucs' offense finished with 423 yards of offense and managed to make up for Graham's two fumbles, a fumble by Clifton Smith, and a pick by Garcia. They drove the ball right down the field in OT to setup Matt Bryant's field goal to win it. They did enough to win the game in the end despite 4 turnovers.
Overall grade: B

Defense: The defense just outright blew during the first half of play. Quite frankly, it was utterly disgusting to watch for a good chunk of this game. Barber was toast on a couple of plays including getting fulled on a halfback pass to the QB, when Barber decided to look in the backfield and start to come back. When he realized it would be a pass, it was too late. The linebackers were caught out of their gaps a lot on run plays, and the result was KC's pathetic offense racking up big yards on the ground, rushing for 183 yards, and letting Charles be the first back this year to rush for 100 yards agains them. Jackson had several good plays, though, including a forced fumble and recovery right after the Smith fumble. The offense would score on the next play via the Graham to Smith pass. Piscatelli had a solid game, but got caught holding a receiver when Buchannon had picked off a pass to setup first and goal. What was also bad was the fact that the Bucs only got one sack against a team that had given up 22 sacks already. The pass rush has disappeared and needs to come back. The defense did manage to make some adjustments and started making KC punt. In the end, they just barely did enough to give the team a chance to win it late.
Overall grade: C+

Special Teams: This was a good week for Special Teams. They only allowed 4.5 yards per punt return and 18 yards per kick return. Meanwhile, Clifton Smith had a great day returning punts and kicks. He returned punts at a 13.5 yard per return clip. But, more importantly, brough the team back to life with a 97 yard kick-off return for a touchdown, only the second time in team history. He averaged 27 yards on the other 5 kick returns, which is a far cry better than what the Bucs had been getting out of Jackson. Matt Bryant nailed all three of his kicks, including the OT game winner from 34 yards out. Bidwell was solid on punts. This was definitely one of the best efforts all year for this group, and the kick return for a TD got this team jump started.
Overall grade: A

Coaching: Gruden seemed to have a decent game plan, but it went down the tubes early with poor execution, a fumble on the first offensive possession, and with a QB failing to take advantage of targets further down the field. Nevertheless, the offense managed to make a comeback and get the Bucs in position to win the game. Monte had one of his worst games for much of the first half. Once he got settled, however, the defense started to come alive. Bisaccia's men finally appeared to be well coached. The effort of the special teams unit was one of the biggest keys in the Bucs' victory. Needless to say, the coaching job was both good and bad. A lot of the bad play, however, falls on the players who failed to execute far too often, perhaps looking forward to the BYE. But coming back and winning a game in which they were down 21 points, and setting a franchise record for the largest comeback, can't be overlooked.
Overall grade: C+

This is the type of game that can really cement a team. They've now come back twice this season in games where they were down by two or more scores. That's tough to do in this league, and something Jon's teams have had problems with since he's been here. This game is proof positive that the Bucs have a very good team, as bad teams don't come back like that.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Talking Plank - Week 9

The Talking Plank - Week 9

Bucs At Chiefs:

First off, sorry about having no updates this past week. Wife was out of town, and I had some work come home with me. Needless to say, I hope to get back going again. With the loss at Dallas, the Bucs really missed an opportunity to place them solidly in command of the NFC. Now they are 5-3 and need to go on the road, to a trap game, and make sure they come back with the win. So let's take a look at this game.

On offense, the Bucs come in ranked 13th (341.2y/g), 21st in points (21.2/g), 14th passing (221y/g), and 9th rushing (120.2y/g). The Chiefs are ranked 31st in defense (404.7y/g), 28th in points allowed (27.6/g), 17th against the pass (207.9y/g), and 32nd agains the run (196.9y/g). Needless to say, with the Chiefs giving up a whopping 6.4 yards per rush, the Bucs will likely attempt to exploit that area of the Chiefs' defense. The Bucs will be without Dunn, Sears, and Askew, but should be able to run with Graham and Bennett. The Chiefs also seem to have a problem generating any kind of pass rush with just 4 sacks all year. That bodes well for the Bucs, as they should be able to exploit both the passing and rushing areas. The Bucs have had some struggles generating offense on the road, but should be able to get enough going to turn this game into an eventual route. With Galloway back, Bryant doing well, and Clayton resurfacing, the Bucs should have enough weapons to force the safeties to respect the passing game. If that happens, they should be able to exploit the ground game. Garcia needs to have a calm game and take whatever is there and not feel the phantom pressure. In the end, I think our offense will have a stellar game and rack up some points.

On defense, the Bucs come in ranked 5th (277.6y/g), 2nd in points allowed (15/g), 7th against the pass (188.8y/g), and 8th against the run (88.9y/g). The Chiefs' offense is ranked 27th (267.7y/g), 31st in points scored (14.1/g), 29th passing (163.9y/g), and 20th rushing (103.9y/g). Larry Johnson is suspended...for week 10 (next week). But, still, the Chiefs have been average on the ground and horrid through the air. Thigpen is going against the Bucs, and you can expect some pick opportunities, as well as some sacks. The Chiefs have given up a whopping 22 sacks. Their most dangerous receiver is Tight End Tony Gonzalez. Beyond that, they have some average receivers, and not much else. The Bucs secondary should be able to deal with this group, though it will be interesting to see what impact missing Phillips has, and how well Piscatelli does starting. Personally, I think Sabby will be a better Safety than Flip, but we'll see. With the Bucs' defense starting to clamp down on everyone, I don't expect to see the Chiefs do much but punt the ball a lot. The defense should be able to rack up some sacks and get a pick or two. If they do, they'll shut the Chiefs down.

On special teams, the Bucs come in averaging 7.0 on punt returns, and 21.5 yards per kick return. They are allowing 9.8 per punt and 21 per kick. The Chiefs are getting 5.1 yards per punt and 24.4 yards per kick, while allowing 10.5 per punt and 22.5 per kick. Since inserting Smith, the Bucs got 16.4 yards per punt return on 5 tries. He's definitely an improvement here, and that might make a difference in terms of starting position. The Bucs should win the field position battle more often than they lose it, but we'll see. Novack was the kicker, but sucked at FG's missing 4 of 10. So odds are that Barth will kick vs. the Bucs, and he's something of an unknown long term. From the punting position, Colquitt may be out again, which would leave Weatherford to punt, who is doing a so-so job. If so, the Bucs will have an advantage here that may lead to better field position. I like our Special Teams in this match-up.

This is another trap game. If the Bucs come out to play and don't make a lot of mistakes, they will win, and win big.

Bucs 27 Chiefs 9