Saturday, December 7, 2013

Four Point Stance: Bills at Buccaneers


With yet another year without a playoff appearance all but a forgone conclusion, the Buffalo Bills (4-8) will be looking to build something in their final four games that's been missing all season — consistency.

The Bills, victims of four losses by seven points or fewer and a bunch of blown leads and injuries along the way, will up against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team (3-9) that is officially out of playoff contention itself.

With a rookie quarterback of their own and a two big losses in the backfield, The Bucs have worked to regroup after an 0-8 start and put together an impressive string of wins against Miami, Atlanta and Detroit. First-year signal-caller Mike Glennon will try to rebound after a terrible performance against Carolina and revive a passing game that's been ailing of late.

When the Bills have the ball:
E.J. Manuel has looked pretty solid since his return from a knee injury, but the same can't be said for his wide receiving corps. Stevie Johnson will need to put last week's disastrous end behind him, and he'll likely have to fight past a familiar foe to do it. Johnson has had success against corner Darrelle Revis before, and their one-on-one matchup may dictate Manuel's decisions early on. Either way, the rookie will need the continuing support of his faithful ground duo, who are averaging nearly 140 yards per game and 40 percent of the team's touchdowns. Keep an eye out for a more productive two-tight end set if newcomer Tony Moeaki is able to go alongside former college teammate Scott Chandler.

When the Buccaneers have the ball:
While Glennon struggled last week, he's arguably been the league's best rookie QB this season, averaging a 62 percent completion rating and 13/5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He and third-string back Bobby Rainey will be up against a Bills defense that's given up big plays at times but leads the league in sacks and is only behind -- guess who -- the Bucs in interceptions. That puts the pressure on Rainey — who had a monster game three weeks ago — to produce and will likely keep Glennon to short screens and check downs to avoid any costly turnovers and thwart off the pressure in the backfield. If Vincent Jackson ends up sitting this one out with his hamstring injury, it could be a long day for the Bucs' offense.

Costly penalties. Tampa Bay has drawn more flags than any other team in the league this year (98), though Buffalo has committed their fair share, as well (82). The Bucs have given away plenty of second-chance first downs in their errors, an area Buffalo's stagnant third-down offense would love to take advantage of. If Buffalo can cut down on the mental mistakes and force Tampa Bay into some holding calls with its quick defensive front, that may force Glennon and the offense to take some chances downfield and give Buffalo's recouping secondary — mainly Jairus Byrd — a shot or two at a big play.

Buffalo is looking for its second straight win against Tampa Bay, which is currently 6-3 overall against the Bills. Buffalo hasn't won in Tampa since 1991 but was victorious in their last matchup back in 2009, defeating a Byron Leftwich-led offense at the Ralph, 33-20. Fred Jackson ran for 163 yards and added another 25 through the air in that game, while Terrell Owens and Lee Evans pulled in touchdown passes from Trent Edwards.

Follow Dan @DanBegnoche
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily