As we have now passed the half way mark of the 2012 NFL season both Tampa Bay (3-4) and Oakland (3-4) are under new rookie NFL head coaches. Though one team I believed to have had a better chance with a new head coach to make the playoffs in 2012, the Oakland Raiders, have truly not looked good enough for postseason football as of yet. Both teams are coming off big wins the Raiders beating divisional rival Kansas City 26-16 and the Buccaneers beating a Viking team who was undefeated at home 36-17.
Tampa Bay is coming off their bye week and should be very much prepared to face an Oakland Raider team who in the last two weeks has beaten two terrible teams in the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Kansas City Chiefs. Although both of those games have been closer than they should have been, especially the Jaguars game going into overtime after they lost Maurice Jones Drew earlier.
Tampa is looking to continue their winning ways and get even in the standings, but Oakland who has won two straight ugly games and has looked good combined the last three weeks after their bye to get even as well.
My Keys to this Week 9 Match-Up:
1) Team Defenses. Both teams coming into this week have not looked great on defense. The Raiders haven’t shown up completely since their loss to the undefeated Falcons three weeks ago. The Buccaneers had a great day on defense two Thursday nights ago in Minnesota shutting down Adrian Peterson for only one trip into the end zone. Look for the Tampa Bay to find a way to shut down Darren McFadden who last week had a season best 114 yards on the ground. Both teams are good at shutting down the running game as the Raiders are ranked at 11th in opposing teams rushing yards per game and Tampa Bay is 6th. Look for the passing defense of one of these teams to kill them late in the game.
2) Running Backs. Both the Raiders and the Buccaneers in 2012 have been able to throw the ball around as Carson Palmer and Josh Johnson have had very good to average numbers through the air. The only problem for both teams this year is keeping possession of the football for a long period of time on the ground. Until last Sunday’s game against Kansas City Darren McFadden only had rushed for 100 yards one other time against the Pittsburg Steelers who were very injured. Doug Martin who is the starting running back for the Buccaneers has been on a tear of defenses as in October he averaged 155 yards from scrimmage on the ground per game in the month and looks to continue that against the Raiders. Look for the team who has the running game early to pull out this victory.
My prediction for this Sunday’s match-up will upset Raider fans and make Tampa Bay fans happy. I believe the big win against the Vikings and a bye week will shoot this Buccaneers team to another big win in Oakland. The Raiders have played two poor teams coming into this week and are trying to win three in a row for the first time in over three seasons. Josh Johnson and company will be to much for the Raiders defense this afternoon in Oakland.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28-14
*All stats thanks to pro-football-reference.com