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Bucs At Bills: Two Teams Try To Recover From Week One Disappointment

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIISeptember 17, 2009

The Bucs were victimized at home while the Bills were heartbroken on the road. As both Tampa Bay and Buffalo set their sights on major opening upsets, both teams fell short and find themselves staring at an 0-2 start.

For the Bills, it's a bit tougher. Not only do they have to recover from their heart wrenching loss to their hated rival, the New England Patriots, they have to do it in a short week.

Tampa Bay battled the Cowboys tooth and nail, putting up big numbers on offense, but special teams and mental breakdowns in the team's secondary led to their demise.

When the Bucs head to Buffalo for the first time in franchise history, they bring with them the knowledge that both squads are better than previously believed. But each have flaws they need to solve if they're going to be competitive this season.

Let's take a look at the Buccaneers and Bills showdown.

Records

Buffalo 0-1, Tampa Bay 0-1

Location

Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, NY

Buccaneers Passing Attack vs. Buffalo Bills Pass Defense

The Bills pass defense contained Brady and Moss for 55 minutes of their Monday night matchup. By the end of it though, they had surrendered 366 yards and two gut wrenching touchdowns.

The yardage was more than the much maligned Buccaneers defense surrendered against Dallas in week one.

If Tampa Bay proved anything on Sunday, it's that they could move the ball through the air or on the ground. Byron Leftwich stood in the pocket delivering strikes to a rejuvenated Michael Clayton, Kellen Winslow, and a whole cast of characters.

The Bills applied pressure to Tom Brady all night, giving him little time to get settled in the pocket and forcing the veteran into mistakes.

You have to wonder though if the issue was due more to Brady being tentative in his first game back from a major injury rather than the Bills playing above expectations.

Tampa Bay's offensive line handled the vaunted Dallas Cowboys pass rush (which led the league in sacks in 2008), not allowing one quarterback take down.

They will likely be without their Pro Bowl caliber center, Jeff Faine, for this one. So his replacement Sean Mahan will need to step up and prevent penetration from the middle of the line by Marcus Stroud and company.

With Buffalo running a lot of cover two shell, Kellen Winslow may get a good opportunity to exploit the middle of that Bills defense, especially with veteran Paul Posluzny out with a broken forearm.

Advantage: Tampa Bay

Buccaneers Running Game vs. Bills Run Defense

The Buffalo Bills contained the Patriots running game, limiting New England to 3.2 yards a carry. The Patriots however, only ran the ball 23 times despite having 77 plays with the football.

As New England continued to get Tom Brady into rhythm, the running game became an afterthought.

Tampa Bay will test that Bills run defense. Tampa Bay rung up 173 yards rushing against one of the best defenses in the NFL.

If Tampa Bay can sustain drives with their running game, the Buffalo defense will be in deep trouble due to their offense's fast break approach. Buffalo's going to be on the field for a lot of plays against Tampa Bay's three headed monster at running back.

Advantage: Tampa Bay

Bills Passing Attack vs. Buccaneers Pass Defense

We've all seen the replays—Cowboys wide receivers streaking down the field and dancing untouched into the end zone. It's tough for the Buccaneers defense because with the exception of those four breakdowns in coverage, they pretty much held the Cowboys in check most of the game.

Ah, but that's like saying despite losing 18 straight games the Lions are a darn good football team. You can't dismiss the plays. They happened, and they will continue to happen until the Buccaneers prove they can stop it.

Trent Edwards had a good game for Buffalo against the Patriots, tossing for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Despite having time to throw, it seemed Edwards was content in checking down to his running backs. RB Fred Jackson led the Bills in receptions and yardage.

High priced free agent acquisition Terrell Owens only caught two passes, while speedster Lee Evans only caught three.

Can Edwards take advantage of Owens and Evans downfield against the Buccaneers secondary the same way Tony Romo did? He'll need to.

Buffalo's fast break offense affords him limited opportunities to throw the football. The Bills have to take advantage of any mismatches in the secondary.

Advantage: Buffalo

Bills Running game vs. Buccaneers Run Defense

Once again, the Bills fast break offense limited their opportunities in the running game. Without suspended back Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson carried the load for the Buffalo attack.

Jackson was decent, rushing for 57 yards on 15 carries for a 3.8 yard average.

While the Bucs run defense held Cowboys running back Marion Barber to 75 yards rushing, there was still a sense they gave up too much on the ground. The Cowboys finished with 118 yards on the ground, averaging 4.9 yards a carry.

The Bucs have to get tighter at the point of attack if they hope to win this ballgame.

Advantage: Push

Bills Special Teams vs. Buccaneers Special Teams

The Buccaneers special teams had a day they'd soon like to forget, fumbling once and having some break downs in coverage, a field goal blocked and another going wide right. This is not the Buccaneers special teams we're used to seeing.

It will be interesting to see if this was a week one aberration or a sign of things to come.

Buffalo had their own fumble issues against New England on Monday night but kicker Ryan Lindell is as solid as they come.

Advantage: Buffalo

Buccaneers Coaching vs. Bills Coaching

Both teams fired their offensive coordinators a week before the season started.

Raheem Morris (0-1) lost in his debut as head coach of the Buccaneers, but his team fought hard and played the physical style he was looking for. Mental breakdowns cost them against Dallas.

Dick Jauron (57-77) is in a fight for his coaching life. After three consecutive 7-9 seasons, Jauron needs to get the Bills into the playoffs. Buffalo came out fired up to play on Monday night football and had the heavily favored Patriots on the ropes, only to let Brady and company escape.

Advantage: Push

Intangibles

This will be the first road test for the young Buccaneers under head coach Raheem Morris.

This is Buffalo's home opener and it's also the Bills' opportunity to celebrate their 50-year all-time team.

(By the way, how O.J. Simpson cannot be on this list is beyond me. He may be a murderer, but he was one of the greatest players in Bills history. He's a hall of famer for crying out loud and the first guy to break the 2,000 yard rushing barrier. How can you not have the Juice on your all-time team?)

The Bills will have a short week to prepare for Tampa Bay and they'll need to recover from one of the most disappointing losses in recent franchise history.

Blowing a 13-point lead with just a little over two minutes left in the game is just gut wrenching and reminiscent of some other Buffalo collapses on Monday night football, such as last season's Monday Night loss to Cleveland.

It sent the Bills into a tailspin. They lost four out of their last six games and missed the playoffs after a 5-1 start.

Advantage: Push

Prediction

On the surface, it’s tough to go against a team that nearly defeated the New England Patriots on their home turf with all the nation watching. The Bills looked fast and strong, giving the Patriots fits on both sides of the football. It took a miracle fumble to allow the Pats to escape from the brink.

Dig a little deeper though and you see a football team that was out gained 441 yards to 276. You see an offense that managed only 17 points and was on the field 15 minutes less than their counterpart. And you see a team that blew a 13 point lead.

Meanwhile, in Tampa Bay you see a club that can not only throw the ball but also run it and when not blowing coverages can play pretty decent defense.

The biggest questions in this game are can the Bucs sustain a running game and/or can Trent Edwards get the ball downfield to Owens and Evans?

Which team answers the question successfully will likely be your winner on Sunday.

Pick: Buccaneers 24, Bills 17

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