Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- The Bucs are coming off a bye and their best offensive performance of the season, as they look to take control of their division and build momentum for the playoffs.
- This will be the last game for the Browns before the return of Deshaun Watson from his suspension.
- The Bucs have scored over 22 points only once all year, while the Browns have held their opponent under 23 points only twice.
- This will be a battle of wills with the Bucs passing at a high rate and playing fast while the Browns play slow and have a run-heavy approach.
How tampa bay Will Try To Win ::
The Bucs last played in Week 10 in London and had arguably their best offensive performance of the season. That feels like an odd thing to say about a Tom Brady-led offense considering they scored only 21 points, but in that game, the Bucs accumulated over 400 yards of total offense for only the second time this season and the first time in five weeks. While the Bucs offensive struggles have been talked about extensively, looking back at their first 10 games really brings to light how bad things have been. The Bucs have scored one or fewer offensive touchdowns SIX TIMES in their first 10 games, and have scored over 22 points only once – in a 41-31 loss to the Chiefs.
Looking ahead, it is hard not to be at least somewhat optimistic about a team quarterbacked by Tom Brady coming out of a bye and facing the 31st-ranked DVOA defense in the league. In that game against Seattle, the Bucs offense looked more like the unit we all expected coming into the season than they have at any point this season. Julio Jones made a couple of dynamic plays to bring a third explosive option into the receiving corps, Rachaad White looked great and had burst as he appears to take control of the backfield, and Brady was in rhythm, averaging over eight yards per pass attempt for the first time all season. The Browns defense has been lit up this season, allowing eight of ten opponents to score 23 or more points and ranking near the bottom of the league on a per-play basis against both the run and the pass. There was some excitement that maybe they had fixed some things when they dominated the Bengals without Ja’Marr Chase on Monday night in Week 8, but they have given up 39 and 31 points in their two games since their Week 9 bye.
The Bucs rank 4th in the league in pass rate over expectation (PROE) and 3rd in the league in situation neutral pace. Coming out of their bye, I would expect the Bucs to maintain a quick pace of play, and possibly even turn it up a bit. Leonard Fournette’s status is very much in doubt for this week, making it likely that the Bucs stick with a high pass rate as well, especially considering that the Bucs running backs who will be replacing him are more well-suited to playing fast and in space than Fournette ever was. While Fournette has done a lot of good things for the Bucs over the last two seasons, it is very possible that his absence will help unlock this offense’s potential. The Bucs should be able to attack a Browns defense that plays the 8th highest rate of zone coverage in the league while also getting very little pressure on the quarterback. The Bucs playmakers are as explosive this week as Brady has had all year, just in time for what appears to be his best matchup of the season.
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