After a dominating performance against the Chicago Bears last week, the Buccaneers (4-5) look to get back to .500 against the Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)
Smooth sailing for the Buccaneers last weekend as they tamed the Bears, but this week won’t exactly be smooth sailing. The Bucs enter week 11 looking to get back to the .500 plateau for the first time since week 2. In their way, the tied for first place Kansas City Chiefs, who are riding a five game winning streak.
With one of the biggest home field advantages in the NFL, the Chiefs are 4-0 at home this year. Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Chiefs, has been giving opposing teams fits since it was completed in 1972. In fact, Arrowhead Stadium makes currently holds the top spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for loudest stadium. They broke the record previously held by the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field when the crowd hit a deafening 142.4 dB against the New England Patriots back in 2014.
This will be the 12th time the Bucs and Chiefs clash on the gridiron with the Bucs holding the series edge 6-5. The Bucs have won four straight against the Chiefs including a 30-27 overtime win at Arrowhead Stadium, although Jeff Garcia was behind center for the Buccaneers when that happened back in 2008. Chiefs coach Andy Reid has a 4-3 record against the Buccaneers stemming back to his days as skipper of the Green Bay Packers.
Buccaneers Offense vs Chiefs Defense
Although their record may not show it, the Chiefs defense hasn’t been the same dominating force it has been the last few seasons. Injuries and inconsistent play have left much to be desired as far as yardage numbers. They rank 13th in the NFL against the pass and 22nd against the run. While those numbers don’t scream domination, there has been two things the Chiefs have done very well this season, force turnovers and prevent points, two reasons why they sit on top of the AFC West. The defense has forced 11 fumbles and has 13 interceptions on the year, and rank 7th in the league in points given up per game.
Make no mistake about it, this contest will be decided by the offensive line. The boys in the trenches are going to have their hands full in this matchup, as not only do they have to watch out for Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford, who is currently tied for the league lead in sacks with ten, but all signs point to superstar linebacker Justin Houston making his 2016 debut this Sunday. With their defensive captain back in action, the defense could look to take it to the next level.
After suffering what appeared to be a serious knee injury last week, Joe Hawley will be back in action at center today, a welcomed breath of fresh air, especially with back up center Evan SMith out, on the o-line. His linemate Kevin Pamphile, however, did not pass concussion protocol and will miss this contest. Russell Shepard and Luke Stocker are also listed as questionable, although both participated fully in practice on Friday, which is a good sign that they will play on Sunday.
The Chiefs do have some injuries up front still, but the Chiefs have arguably the best depth in the league when it comes to the front seven. Chiefs Linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive tackle Dontari Poe are both listed on the injury report as questionable, with Johnson practicing on a limited basis and Poe sitting out of Friday’s practice.
Where do the Bucs find success on offense against the Chiefs? Mike Evans. With top cornerback Marcus Peters and Phillip Gaines chances of playing in this contest appearing bleak, the Chiefs will rely on rookie cornerback D.J. White, who is returning to the lineup after breaking his hand in week seven, to cover Mike Evans. Jameis Winston needs to abuse this matchup and get Evans the ball as often as possible, although other opportunities could open up down field if the Chiefs decided to cheat a safety to help shadow Evans.
Even without finding much success on the ground, the presence of Doug Martin in the lineup seems to help Jameis Winston out mentally. This week, Martin needs to be more than just Winston’s safe place, however, and needs to re-establish himself as one of the leagues most dominant backs. Although Evans should be the focal point in this game given his match up, Doug needs to finally bring stability to the running back position that has been decimated with injuries this season and control the tempo of the game.
Buccaneers Defense Vs. Chiefs Offense
While the Chiefs defense is really good at causing turnovers, Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense are pretty good at controlling turnovers. Smith himself has only thrown three interceptions all season, as he is a great game manager that doesn’t allow himself to be forced into mistakes. The best best for forcing turnover is forcing the Chiefs to put the ball on the ground, as they have fumbled the ball away six times this season.
There is only one Chiefs offensive player that appears on the injury report, but it’s a big one, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. With Maclin being out for this contest, the secondary will have to keep an eye on Tyreek Hill, who was targeted 13 times and had 10 receptions last week. Hill has blazing speed and if the Bucs secondary isn’t careful, he could easily bust out a big play.
How can the Bucs defense shut down the Chiefs offense? It all starts with slowing down Spencer Ware. Ware has been huge for the Chiefs offense, all but causing them to say Jamaal Charles who? Ware is quick, dynamic player that can hurt you both on the ground and through the air. Preventing Ware from breaking out has to be the main focus by the defense in this game, as they should have Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander keeping an eye on number 32 all afternoon.
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