Colts (6-6) vs. Buccaneers (5-7)
All-time record: Indianapolis leads the all-time series 7-5
Home record: 3-3
Key Matchups (via Scott Smith):
1. Buccaneers LT Donovan Smith vs. Colts DE Justin Houston
Another week, another premier challenge for Smith, but such is the life of an NFL left tackle. Houston had 78.5 sacks in eight years with the Chiefs, including an incredible 22 in one season, but he was released last March in a salary cap move. The Colts quickly signed him to be their blind side rusher and he leads the team with 8.0 sacks; no other lineman has more than 3.5. Houston primarily rushes around the left end of the opposing line, which means he'll largely be the responsibility of Smith. Houston may longer be at the peak of his powers but he's still tough, competitive and strong and he can convert speed moves into power. With good size and smooth feet, Smith is equipped to handle both types of rushes and will try to provide Jameis Winston with the good protection he's received through most of the last two games. Since being drafted early in the second round in 2015, Smith has been an iron man for Tampa Bay, starting all 76 of the team's games in that span and rarely missing even a single offensive snap. The Buccaneers obviously trust him to keep danger off Winston's back, even when the opposing team has a stud edge rusher.
2. Colts C Ryan Kelly vs. Buccaneers NT Vita Vea
The Colts' interior offensive line is absolutely stacked and it shows in their rushing numbers (139 yards per game, 4.5 yards per carry) and in their pass protection (6.14% sacks per pass attempt). In just two years, Quenton Nelson has established himself as the best guard in the NFL, and one might be able to say the same about Kelly at the center position. Selected 18th overall in 2016, Kelly missed 13 games due to injury the previous two years but has played every game this year and has been dominant in the middle. Kelly can block defenders one-on-one, which is something most centers struggle with, and he can take on and hold his ground against good interior pass-rushers. In that regard, he's particularly important to the Colts this week because the Bucs' interior line features Vea and Ndamukong Suh, two interior pass-rushers who can collapse the middle of a line. Vea has recently drawn attention for his work on goal-line offense but the 347-pound strongman has also started to heat up in pass rush. Though he was not credited with a sack in Jacksonville last Sunday he was at the center of some of the chaos that led to teammates getting the quarterback down. Vea-vs.-Kelly may not draw the eyes of the viewer on every play but it is likely to be one of the best one-on-one battles of the afternoon Sunday.
3. Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones vs. Colts LB Darius Leonard
The Colts' interior defense isn't especially big but it is tough to run against nonetheless, and Leonard is one of the main reasons why. As a rookie in 2018, he led the NFL with 111 solo stops and 163 total tackles, and he would probably be atop those lists again this year if he hadn't missed three games due to injury earlier in the season. Most recently he's coming off an 11-tackle game against Tennessee that also included three quarterback hits. Leonard is a playmaking linebacker in the mold of Derrick Brooks, a comparison recently made by Bill Polian, and he's like Lavonte David in his ability to get the football out, with seven forced fumbles in 25 career games. Jones is the Buccaneers' leading rusher and he's show the ability to bounce off tackles at the second level and gain extra yards. The second-year back is having a rebound season in his second year in the league but he most recently ceded most of the playing time in Jacksonville to fellow back Peyton Barber in part due to pass-protection issues. That is another way that Jones and Leonard are likely to do battle, because the Colts' linebacker is an excellent and frequent blitzer. He had seven sacks as a rookie and has five more in nine games this year.
4. Colts TE Jack Doyle vs. Buccaneers LB Devin White
As noted above, Indianapolis has dealt with a rash of injuries to their skill-position players, which is ongoing and recently claimed the team's other productive tight end, Eric Ebron. With all the upheaval, Doyle is actually the Colts' leading pass-catcher with 36 grabs, and he's scored four times. Doyle isn't the fastest or most athletic tight end in the league but like most of the Colts on both sides of the ball he's disciplined and savvy. He knows the nuances of playing the tight end position, he's quick with his cuts and his stops and starts and he is good at creating space for other Colts pass-catchers. Doyle is smart and very much a "security blanket" type of tight end for his quarterbacks. Since he doesn't often go deep, he will frequently be in range of the Bucs' linebackers, especially on crossing routes. Rookie linebacker Devin White will likely have to pick up some of these routes or understand where Doyle is trying to find a hole in a zone. White secured his first career interception last week in Jacksonville and broke up another pass with a diving play. The Buccaneers drafted the former LSU fifth-overall in April in part because he has uncommon speed for his size. That should allow him to keep up with or catch up with Doyle, and then he'll need to show sure tackling to get the Colt tight end to the ground.
The game will kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET. The broadcast can be found on FOX, locally. It will also be available on a live stream that can be accessed through the Buccaneers Official App and Yahoo Sports. See below for details.
How to Watch:
Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta
The stream is available through Yahoo Sports, the Buccaneers Official App and online at Buccaneers.com.
*Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply.
How to Listen:
*In-market fans can listen through the Bucs Official App
Gene Deckerhoff, Dave Moore, T.J. Rives
98ROCK (97.9 - Tampa)
The Boot (103.9 FM – Brooksville)
ESPN SW Florida (99.3 FM – Ft. Myers/Naples/Punta Gorda)
Citrus (95.3 FM - Homosassa)
WLKF (96.7 FM and 1430 AM – Lakeland)
WYGM (740 AM/ 96.9 FM – Orlando and Melbourne)
WSTU (1450 AM - Port St. Lucie)
ESPN Tallahassee (97.9 FM – Tallahassee)
WTMP-FM 96.1, 101.9 and WMGG-AM 1470 (Tampa)
WIXC – AM 1060 (Melbourne/Orlando)
Sirius/XM Channel 88
On the Bucs Official App*
*Access restricted to Tampa area