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Top 5 storylines to follow for Bills vs. Buccaneers


After a tough loss on Monday, the Buffalo Bills have a short week to prepare for the defending Super Bowl champions. Buffalo is undefeated against the NFC this season and Tampa Bay hasn't lost a game yet against an AFC team.

Here are 5 storylines to follow ahead of Sunday's game.

1. Getting back on the right track

The Bills haven't won back-to-back games since Week 4 and Week 5 when they beat the Texans at home and the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium. Buffalo has a chance to get back on the right track with a win on Sunday against the Buccaneers.

A win won't come easy though and Buffalo's defense will be tasked with slowing down Tampa Bay's high-powered offense that ranks near the top in many categories. The Buccaneers have the best scoring offense averaging 31.4 points per game and the second-best total offense averaging 403.7 total yards per game.

As Buffalo turns the page on Monday's loss and begins to look ahead to Sunday, Bills head coach Sean McDermott noted his team can do a better job of being on the same page in how they execute the run game together, taking advantage of the opportunities in the red zone and having a physical mindset. 

"We definitely have to continue to make adjustments and improve some of the things that we're doing," McDermott shared. "But the season's still out there for us right now and we've got a big test, a big challenge this week going down to Tampa."

2. Tampa Bay's perfect records and their chance to clinch on Sunday

The Buccaneers have some perfect records this season that the Bills could wreck. Tampa Bay is 5-0 at home and 3-0 versus AFC teams (Patriots, Dolphins, Colts) this year. They're also riding a three-game win streak and are first in the NFC South with a four-game lead.

Buffalo is also perfect against the NFC so far this season with wins against the Washington Football team and the Saints. Only one can remain undefeated against the other conference on Sunday.

Tampa Bay is also playing with a chance to clinch their division on Sunday. The Bucs must win and the Saints and Panthers must lose or tie in order for Tampa Bay to win the NFC South. If this doesn't happen, Tampa can also clinch a spot in the playoffs this week if they tie with the Bills, the Panthers, Saints and Vikings suffer a loss and the 49ers and Washington either lose or tie.

3. Buccaneers passing offense vs. Bills passing defense (both rank 1st in NFL)

Tampa Bay has had a solid passing attack this year thanks to Tom Brady and his weapons. The Bucs have the best passing offense in the NFL averaging 311.1 passing yards per game. Brady has the most completions (347), passing yards (3,771), passing touchdowns (34) and passing first downs (195) in the league.

Five players on the Bucs roster have more than 400 receiving yards and have helped Brady with his success in the passing game. Chris Godwin has the seventh-most receiving yards (949), Mike Evans has the third-most receiving touchdowns (10) and Rob Gronkowski has the second-most receiving touchdowns (6) by a tight end.

The Bills defense has been great at defending the pass this year so this matchup is one to keep an eye on during the game. Buffalo is giving up the fewest passing yards per game (165.3) and has allowed the fewest passing touchdowns (8).

While the Bucs have 52 receptions of at least 20 yards (2nd), the Bills have allowed only 26 plays of at least 20 yards (1st).

Even though Tampa is without wide receiver Antonio Brown, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier understands Brady still has plenty of options to go to.

"He still has a really good arsenal of receivers and one of the best tight ends in pro football in Gronkowski," Frazier said. "So, it's going to be a challenge for sure. But we've got to find a way. We've got to find a way to be able to put ourselves in a position to make some plays on the back end. And we look forward to the challenge.

"It's a game that we need for a lot of reasons. And we've got to find a way to slow that passing attack down and give us a chance to get a W."

4. Playing Tom Brady for the first time since becoming a Buccaneer

Sunday marks the first time the Bills will play against Tom Brady since moving on from the Patriots. Since becoming a Buccaneer, Brady has won a Super Bowl and is currently a part of the best scoring offense in the NFL. It hasn't been easy for the Bills to defeat Brady when he was a Patriot and it won't be any less difficult on Sunday.

Buffalo hasn't beat Brady under Sean McDermott. In their six meetings, Brady scores an average of 24.8 points per game and an average of 376.8 yards per game. Buffalo's defense has also forced seven total turnovers and at least one in all but one of those six games.

Buffalo is 3-32 versus Brady as a starting quarterback. We will see if the Bills can find success against this new era of Brady on Sunday.

"He's given us the blues on occasions," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "He definitely presents challenges. He got him another ring. He just continues to get better and better it seems. It's just amazing. He's doing a great job down there."

5. Bills offense vs. Bucs defense

You also might want to keep an eye on how Buffalo's passing offense does against Tampa's passing defense this week.

It might not be worth trying to run the ball on the Buccaneers because they have excelled at stopping the run and are allowing only 84.3 rushing yards per game (2nd). Tampa's defense does give up yards in the air, ranking 20th allowing close to 250 passing yards a game.

Buffalo's strength on offense this season has been in the air more than on the ground so the Bills could have success moving the ball against the Bucs. Josh Allen and his offense are averaging 259.3 passing yards per game (8th) and Allen has 26 passing touchdowns (4th) this season. Allen has also thrown 41 passes of at least 20 yards (tied for 5th most) and the Bucs defense has allowed 48 plays of at least 20 yards (10th most).

Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians knows it will be tough to limit Josh Allen in the air and on the ground.

"When you got a dual-threat quarterback like Josh, it's not easy," Arians told reporters on Monday. "I mean they're in empty sets and you're expecting passes and they got quarterback powers and quarterback counters. He's their leading rusher just about and then he can sling it around all those great receivers he has. So it is a really big challenge defensively for us."

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