The Indianapolis Colts (6-5) will get another formidable test on Sunday when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Before the Week 12 matchup gets here, we caught up with Luke Easterling over at Bucs Wire to get the scoop on the Colts’ opponents entering this game. Be sure to follow Luke and Bucs Wire for all over your Bucs needs this week.
We went behind enemy lines to ask Bucs Wire five questions before this Week 12 matchup:
What will it take for the Bucs to run it back in the Super Bowl?
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Luke Easterling: They’ll need to get healthier, considering all the injuries they’ve dealt with so far this season. They’ll also need to avoid the self-inflicted errors that have plagued them in each of their losses. Finally, they’ll have to prove they can win against good teams on the road, something that was critical to their postseason run last year. That starts with beating a hot Colts team in Indy this week.
What makes the Bucs run defense so elite? Are there any holes to exploit?
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LE: It’s a stellar combination of personnel and scheme. The Bucs have the NFL’s best nose tackle in Vita Vea (who will be a game-time decision Sunday), and two stout veterans in Ndamukong Suh and Will Gholston flanking him in base alignments. Jason Pierre-Paul is one of the NFL’s best run-defending EDGE players, too. Todd Bowles is also one of the league’s best defensive coordinators, and he knows how to game-plan his guys into success. The Bucs have been more leaky against the run than usual at times this season, though, so they’ll need to tighten things up if they want to slow down Jonathan Taylor.
Is there any sign at all of Tom Brady slowing down?
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LE: Not at all. He’s among the league leaders in every passing category, and though he’s had a few head-scratching moments this season, his overall body of work is some of the best football he’s ever played in his legendary career. When I get to 44 years old, I hope I’m as good at anything as Brady is at playing quarterback.
Which Bucs may be flying under the radar but deserve more love?
AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio
LE: I think Tampa Bay’s trio of safeties don’t get enough attention. Antoine Winfield Jr., Jordan Whitehead and Mike Edwards are all versatile, athletic and smart, and Bowles relies on their combination of physical and mental prowess to make his complex, aggressive scheme work. They’re all playmakers who find the ball and make big things happen, and their ability to impact the game in every way (run, pass, blitz) is key to Tampa Bay’s defensive success.
Final score, prediction?
Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
LE: The Bucs are the better team on paper, but they’ve struggled to prove it on the road this year. Indy thrives on turnovers, and the Bucs have been awful in that department when they’re not playing at home. Taylor has looked unstoppable lately, and the Bucs have allowed lesser backs to have more success than usual this season. Until the Bucs prove they can get the job done on the road, I’m picking against them. Colts 27, Bucs 23.