Buccaneers Look To Start A Three Game Home Stand Out Right With A Victory Over The AFC West Leading Oakland Raiders
Riding on their first winning streak of the 2016 campaign, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers return home to Raymond James Stadium looking for their third straight win as they take on the Oakland Raiders. Home sweet home? Not exactly. Problem is the the Bucs haven’t been saying home sweet home lately as they have only had four home victories in their last 20 tries, including an 0-2 record at Ray Jay this season. In fact, the last time the Bucs had a winning record at home was in 2008.
The Bucs opponent, the Oakland Raiders, have enjoyed spending away from home as well. The Raiders are a perfect 4-0 this season outside of California. Last week, the Raiders put on a clinic against the Jaguars in Jacksonville, and instead of flying home, stayed in Florida all week to prepare for today’s game with the Buccaneers. Where is the home field advantage?
This Sunday will mark the 9th time these two franchise’s will meet up on the gridiron, with the Raiders controlling the series 6-2, including winning two of the last three. Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio is a perfect 3-0 all-time against the Buccaneers. One of the things Oakland has done well this year is win the turnover battle. Oakland is tied for 2nd in the league with a +8 turnover ratio, while the Buccaneer sit at -3.
Buccaneers Offense Vs. Raiders Defense
The Raider defense is their weak point. Buccaneers key to winning this match up? Run, run, and run some more; plain and simple. The last time these two teams met up, Doug Martin had the break out game of his career, rushing for 251 yards and four touchdowns. Difference here is Doug Martin is still out with a hamstring injury, so it will be up to Jacquizz Rodgers to handle the load.
Rodgers has found success in the Bucs starting lineup, and is looking for his third straight 100 yard game. The Raiders come into this week giving up the 28th most yards per game on the ground.
Establishing the running game will allow Jameis Winston to take advantage of the Raiders secondary and their 32nd ranked pass defense. Winston is successful when he only has to throw the ball around 30 times, and keeping him around that number will rely on establishing the running game will be a direct result of getting Rodgers going early and often, something the Buccaneers have had success with in the last two weeks. Rodgers had carried the rock 56 times in the last two games, taking the burden of trying to do too much off the shoulders of Jameis, and resulting in two Buccaneers victories.
On defense the Raiders will be without starting defensive tackle Stacy McGee today, leaving a hole on the defensive line for the Buccaneers to take advantage of. For the Buccaneers on offense, they will be without stating running back Doug Martin, and center Joe Hawley is questionable, although he did practice on Friday so all signs point to him being ready to go.
Buccaneers Defense Vs Raiders Offense
With the Raiders sporting the league’s worst defense in terms of yards given up per game, it’s been offense that has them in first place in the AFC West. The best defense is a good offense in this contest, as establishing the run and controlling the time of possession keeps the potent Raiders offense off the field.
The Raiders offense ranks in the top half of the league in every offensive statistical category. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is enjoying the best year of his short career, throwing 13 touchdown passes, the most of any NFL QB with three or fewer interceptions. His success can be directly linked to the success of the Raiders offensive line that has allowed Carr to only be sacked seven times this year. The Bucs defensive line that is getting healthier every week will need to find a way to rattle Carr and try to force him into making a rare mistake. The return of Robert Ayers this week should help aid in that quest.
Although stopping Latavius Murray and the Raiders passing attack is important, the Raiders have no issues with participating in a shootout. Coming off a game where they allowed 160 yards on the ground, the main focus still needs to be the pass defense. Worth noting is 84 of the rushing yards allowed last week where from quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and although Carr is capable of making plays with his legs, he isn’t known as a mobile quarterback.
The Bucs have allowed the 25th most points per game in the league, and they are going to have to play back a few step to ensure Carr doesn’t beat them deep and dictate the pace of the game. If the Bucs find themselves trailing in this game and are forced to beat the Raiders in a shootout, the results may not be exactly what they had in mind. The stellar Bucs linebacker trio needs to focus on preventing the over the middle pass more than focusing on the run.
The Buccaneers will be missing defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is listed as questionable and is a game-time decision after being a limited participant in practice the last two days with a calf injury. Robert Ayers is still listed as questionable on the injury report, but had a full practice and is expected to start. On offense, tackle Menelick Watson, wide receiver Andre Holmes, and running back Taiwan Jones are all questionable after being limited participants in practice on Friday.
Be sure to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Oakland Raiders from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa today at 1 PM. Unable to watch? The Scrum Sports has you covered! Follow us on Twitter @thescrumsports to get live updates from the game today in real time.