The Bucs take on Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans this weekend at Raymond James. Tennessee comes into the game with a record of 3-1 after beating the Falcons at home last week. The Titans maybe 3-1, but could very well be undefeated, as they had a chance to beat Indy, in Indy, on a fourth quarter drive. The Titans have a great defense, a good run game, and quarterback that just knows how to win.
The Bucs come into the game with a record of 3-2, but are coming off of a beat down in Indianapolis. The Bucs were dominated in all facets of the game last week and are looking to get back on track this week. The Bucs have been very good at home this year and have dominated the opponents that have come into Raymond James. The Bucs are 2-0 and home and have won the games by a combined 38 points. The Bucs have ran the ball very well at home and have enjoyed the home field advantage for once. They are going to need the crowd to help them in this one as well.
Titans Offense v. Bucs Defense
The Titans like to run the ball and they run the ball well. They average 153 yards a game and get contributions from a lot of different sources. They have two backs that they feel comfortable going to in any situation and their quarterback is also very good at running the ball. The Bucs have had a hard time with mobile quarterbacks in the past. The big problem for the Bucs is that their speed actually works against them. They are so fast to get to the ball that they are in a bad spot when the quarterback looks to run. The Buc defense as actually been pretty good against the run this year. The numbers for the Buc run defense are a bit misleading because of the St. Louis and Indy games. Although they gave up over 100 in each of those games, they did so on a lot carries to teams dedicated to running the ball. They will have the same type of team this week and will need to rotate the defensive lineman in and out all game to keep them fresh to stop the run.
The Titans have not passed the ball well this year at all. Vince Young is averaging only 145 yards a game through the air. He also has 5 interceptions to only 3 touchdowns. The Bucs have been great against the pass outside of the game against Indy. They have 6 interceptions on the year to go with 5 forced fumbles as well. They have not gotten to the passer as much as they have wanted, but it has gotten better as the year has gone on. Rookie Tanard Jackson has gotten better each week and made some great plays on Peyton Manning last week. The Bucs will most likely be without Brian Kelly again and will need Phillip Buchanon to step up one more time. They got Torrie Cox back from his suspension and that will help when they go into there 4 defensive back sets. Jermaine Phillips has been great in pass defense and run defense all year and will need a big game this week again.
Bucs Offense v. Titans Defense
The Bucs offense has lost key players in the run game the last two weeks. It started when they lost Cadillac Williams and Luke Petigout against Carolina for the season, and then lost Michael Pittman for 6-8 weeks last week against the Colts. The Bucs have turned the run game over to former Gator Earnest Graham and hope that he can carry the load with a couple of spells from BJ Askew and Ken Darby. They recently signed former Raider Zack Crockett to help with short yardage and blocking situations. This has been a big loss to the Bucs who have used the run to pound teams early and often to set up pass plays and wear the defense down. The Bucs have averaged 124 yards a game and have scored 7 touchdowns on the ground. The new unit will face it's most difficult test yet in the Titans. They give up only 72 yards on the ground per game and are one of the best run defense in the league. The Bucs thought they may catch a break with DT Albert Haynesworth being injured, but he practiced on Friday and will play on Sunday. This match up will go a long way in deciding who wins this game. If the Bucs can run the ball successfully against this defense, they should be able to win the game.
The Bucs passing game has been hit or miss, but that is not the fault of quarterback Jeff Garcia. Garcia has done everything he can to keep the Bucs in the game from not throwing interceptions at all, to running for first downs when a play breaks down. Garcia is a great leader out there and reads the defense perfectly so that Gruden can finally run his offense. While the Bucs are only averaging 182 yards per game in the air, it has been enough to win the games. The problem for the Bucs has been the lack of another wide out to step up and help. Joey Galloway as been Garcia's only big play target all season. Ike Hilliard has caught a lot of balls to keep the chains moving, but he does not have that big play ability. Michael Clayton and Maurice Stovall have done nothing this season and they are going to need to step up for this team to win. The passing game won't win it for the Bucs, but it will need to be good enough to move the ball. Garcia has been the difference on offense so far, but the Bucs are going to need a wide out to step up and help Jeff out.
This is going to be a tough test for the Bucs at home. The Titans are a good team with a great defense. Vince Young seems to find a way to win every game, even if he is having a terrible game. The Bucs offense will need to get going and help keep the defense off the field so that they do not give up the long drives like they have at times this season. If the game is close in the fourth quarter, the Titans will have the advantage with Young at the helm.
Prediction: Bucs 17 Titans 14