It’s Wednesday, so the Buffalo Bills are now turning their attention to their next opponent. This week, it might be the biggest challenge of the season.
After losing a windy one to the New England Patriots on Monday, the Bills (7-5) now must keep their heads above water against the defending champions. Buffalo visits Tampa to face the Buccaneers (9-3).
With that, here are seven storylines to follow as Week 14 approaches:
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
While in New England with the Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady went 32-3 against Buffalo to set the NFL record for most wins by a quarterback against one opponent. He is now on the Buccaneers.
Do we need to say more? Facing him and his past is going to be hot-button topic all week.
Kind of poetic that he’s next after a loss to the Pats.
The defending champs
Vince Lombardi Trophy on display during a press conference before Super Bowl LIV.Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of Brady, he’s really just the cherry on top. From top-to-bottom, on offense and defense, the Bucs will be a huge test. They’ve been a measuring stick for opponents all season since they’re the defending Super Bowl champs.
Other talents they have on offense include playmakers Mike Evans and Buffalonian Rob Gronkowski. Defensively, linebacker Lavonte David, defensive tackle Vita Vea and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. are some names to know.
Facing such a challenge is going to be just as hot of a topic all week.
Keeping the playoff hopes alive
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
If the Bills lose, it’s not all over. But if Buffalo doesn’t upset Tampa Bay in a game where it’s only the second time they’re underdogs this year? It’s going to be a tightrope walk the rest of the season. The only other time the Bills were underdogs was against the Kansas City Chiefs and they did win.
Another bruising running back and O-line
Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette. Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Bad news for the Bills.
Buffalo has struggled against teams like their most recent foe, the Patriots… Ones with bruising rushing attacks.
The Buccaneers have Brady, but this type of rushing attack with running back Leonard Fournette is coming at the Bills as well.
Of course, it’s not just on him. Fournette needs an offensive line, and he has it.
Per Pro Football Focus, here’s the rankings of all five starters on the Bucs’ O-line:
OT Donovan Smith: 11th
OG Ali Marpet: 6th
C Ryan Jensen: 10th
OG Alex Cappa: 17th
OT Tristan Wirfs: 13th
Can the Bills finally turn up on defense against the run when a good ground game is coming at them? If linebacker AJ Klein is not off the Reserve/COVID-19 list, that could be a huge problem.
The “first” game without Tre
Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (left) celebrates a defensive play with teammate cornerback Dane Jackson (right) Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Considering the Patriots only threw the ball three times against the Bills last week, versus Brady and the Bucs, it’ll be Buffalo’s first taste of life without Tre’Davious White.
His season is over with a torn ACL. Expect Brady to throw it a lot at cornerback Dane Jackson.
Helping out Josh
Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
All things considered, Bills quarterback Josh Allen did pretty good against the Pats. He completed half of his passes in a tornado, essentially.
From the poor run game Buffalo has had all season to some play-calling issues with coordinator Brian Daboll as of late… is anybody going to help the QB out?
Bills offensive guard Jon Feliciano (76). Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Feliciano isn’t exactly an All-Pro offensive lineman, but the Bills could use any upgrade they can get along the O-line. Plus, Feliciano brings a bit of a spark to the unit usually upon his return. He’s an emotional player.
After being activated from injured reserve last week to practice, Feliciano did not play against the Patriots. Will he against the Buccaneers?