The Buccaneers' defense has done a great job this year limiting opponents on the ground. They've shut down some of the league's most prolific running backs on their way to a number two ranking in rushing defense, allowing an average of just 76.3 yards per game. The Indianapolis Colts come into town on Sunday and with them, comes their fourth-ranked rushing offense, averaging 139.0 yards per game.
So, who wins out?
Tampa Bay is coming off a game in which they held Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars offense to just 49 yards on the ground. Fournette has the seventh-most rushing yards in the league, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. The previous game, Fournette had 97 yards on the ground and 62 through the air. The Bucs held him to his second-worst rushing mark all season when they allowed him just 38 yards on Sunday. It added him to a list of dangerous tailbacks the Bucs' defense has been able to neutralize - a list that includes the likes of the Rams' Todd Gurley, who the Bucs held to a season-low 16 yards rushing in Week Four, and Panthers' Christian McCaffrey, who Tampa Bay held to his two lowest rushing totals this season in Weeks Two and Six.
However, the Colts, who may or may not have wide receiver T.Y. Hilton available, rely on their rushing attack a little more than most. Their 1,668 rushing yards account for over 40% of their total offensive yards. Their 97 first downs by way of the run rank second in the league. These guys are going to try to run. They're going to have to, lest they abandon almost half their offense, which isn't likely.
The good news is that the Bucs have been able to shut down teams that rely on a rushing attack. Take Seattle. Though Chris Carson finished with 105 yards, 59 of those yards came on one play. Take that away and the Seahawks aren't even over 100 rushing yards in a game that went into overtime, gifting them an extra possession's worth of stats. That Week Four contest against the Rams where the Bucs held Gurley to 16 yards on the ground took the run game out of LA's offense so completely that it forced quarterback Jared Goff to attempt a pass 68 times. An offense that becomes that one-dimensional is going to have a hard time winning a game. And with the way the Bucs' backfield is starting to come on, forcing a guy like Jacoby Brissett to the air could result in adding to the league's fifth-best takeaway total.