The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to take the field of play in Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first time in team history tomorrow when they take on our Buffalo Bills. With both Tampa Bay and Buffalo coming off of Week 1 defeats - and yeah, one of those losses was a touch more excruciating than the other - desperation for a win is high on both sides of the field this weekend.
Buffalo will be without MLB Paul Posluszny, who is out indefinitely nursing a broken forearm back to health. Meanwhile, CB Terrence McGee is listed as questionable after missing Friday's practice with back spasms. Tampa Bay is not quite as healthy as Buffalo; C Jeff Faine (triceps) and CB E.J. Biggers (shoulder) are out, WR Antonio Bryant (knee) is doubtful, and DE Kyle Moore (groin) and TE John Gilmore (ankle) are questionable.
Joining us for one last day of pre-game fun are "Buc Wild" and "Niko521bucs," the lead bloggers over at SB Nation's Buccaneers blog, Buc 'Em. I asked them to make predictions for this weekend's big game, and they very kindly obliged. You'll find their predictions - along with my own - after the jump.
Prediction from Niko521bucs at Buc 'Em:
As hard as this is for me to say, if the Bucs don't win this week, they won't win for a long time, and the season WILL spiral into a 3-win season, no matter how good the offense is. My prediction is 24 to 23; whoever wins, it will be by that score. I hope we are capable of scoring extra points with our three touchdowns!
Prediction from Buc Wild at Buc 'Em:
I'll echo Niko's sentiments. This game, with games vs NYG, at WAS, at PHI, vs CAR and vs NE (in London) on the docket after this, seems to be the most winnable game. Now, any team can win on any day, but if I were a betting man, this would be the most likely victory out of our first 7 games.
We've looked at how Byron has done, we've see how the Bills move the ball, who they rely on. We've discussed the Bills' strengths and weaknesses, as well as the Bucs'. I think Buffalo will be a bit weaker than we think. They're already missing their starting middle linebacker, and may be missing their top corner (McGee) along with Lynch this weekend. If that happens, it lessens the hit of Bryant being out (if he ends up not playing).
I'm throwing my own Hail Mary here. I'm having faith that Bates and Morris fixed the problems on defense. I see a different scheme that generates pressure. I'm not too worried about T.O. or Jackson, its Evans and his speed that scare me. The Bucs O won't be as good, Leftwich will turn it over for the first time, but the Bucs will pound out a close game. The Bucs have to keep it close and weather the no-huddle storm. This is probably the last game I pick the Bucs to win for awhile, so slap me down for a 24-20 win.
Before I get to my prediction, I feel compelled to say something. If being up for a winnable game in between several difficult games is the best reason for predicting a winner, then there are two serious problems here: number one, the head coach is doing a terrible job of keeping his players focused, and number two, one is not considering the same exact factor for the other team. Buffalo follows up this game with dates vs NO, at MIA, and then "catch a break" with a home date vs CLE. So let's not pretend the Bills aren't desperate, too, shall we?
Prediction from yours truly:
As much as I'd like to see Buffalo prove all of its skeptics incorrect and really lay it to the Bucs after going toe-to-toe with New England - a supposed Super Bowl favorite - I just can't bring myself to actually predict it will happen. The Bucs are a tough matchup for the Bills because of their running game and their far-too-unheralded offensive line. I just don't think, ultimately, that the Bucs have enough defense to contain all of the Bills' offensive weapons - and yeah, it's been a long, long time since I've written anything like that. This game will be close for three quarters, and the Bills will pull away at the end. Bills 27, Buccaneers 17
Your predictions? They go in the comments section. Have at it.