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Top 5 storylines to know for Bills vs. Buccaneers | Week 8 


The Bills are more than a third of the way through the season and will have their first and only Thursday night game of the season this week when they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thursday night's game is also the first of three straight 8 PM or later games for Buffalo.

Here are 5 things to know about Week 8's game against the Bucs.

1. Bills looking to stay undefeated against the NFC

The Bills are 2-0 against the NFC so far this season and are looking to keep the streak alive when they face Tampa Bay on Thursday night.

Buffalo beat the Commanders (37-3) in Week 3 and the Giants (14-9) in Week 6. They'll face the rest of the NFC East this season as they play the Eagles on Week 12 and the Cowboys on Week 15. 

The Bucs are the lone NFC South team that Buffalo will face this season. In fact, Buffalo and Tampa Bay have only played each other 12 times since 1976. And only two of those 12 meetings were in Buffalo. Thursday marks the third time these two will play each other in Orchard Park.

The Bills are undefeated against the Bucs in home games with their last victory at home coming in 2017 when they beat Tampa Bay 30-27. The last time these two played each other was in 2021 when the Bucs beat the Bills in overtime with a final score of 33-27.

Tampa Bay leads the series over Buffalo with an 8-4 record.

2. Getting right in the first half + challenges TB could present

In the last three weeks, Buffalo has struggled to get on the scoreboard in the first half as they're averaging 3.3 points per first half (30th in the NFL). Against the Patriots, the Bills managed to score three points before the half and could have had more if it wasn't for a touchdown getting wiped off the board due to a penalty and a missed field goal.

Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey thinks the Bills had some good drives going on Sunday but need to do a better job of finishing in the end zone. Buffalo had two drives of more than 10 plays in the first half against New England — one ended in a field goal and the other was a missed field goal.

"In the first half of that last game, I think there were some good, sustained drives," Dorsey explained. "We've just got to finish those drives. We got down to the red zone and had a penalty on the one touchdown. And then, obviously they got us on a pressure there and put us behind the chains. So, I think those are signs that it's something as an offense that we can go out and execute at a high level."

The Bills know they've got to get the scoring earlier in games as they're nearing the halfway point of the season. Several players and coaches are looking forward to a Thursday night game because they don't have to wait until Sunday for another opportunity to get one in the win column.

"We had our meetings this morning and we were back out on the field today going through things and getting ready for Tampa Bay," Dorsey said. "So you've really got no choice but to turn the page and start focusing on the next opponent, which is a team that's coming in here that's extremely aggressive and have a lot of talent on defense."

Tampa Bay could present some challenges as they're allowing an average of only 17.3 points per game (6th in the NFL), have surrendered only six passing touchdowns (tied for 4th), have forced 12 takeaways (t-4th) and are allowing teams to score on just 22.2% of their trips to the red zone (1st).

3. Josh Allen is 5-0 on Thursday and could hit this career milestone on TNF

Josh Allen is undefeated on Thursday in his career. The QB is 5-0 in Thursday games and 3-0 in the primetime window on Thursday.

In those five wins, the Bills have averaged 28 points per game. Allen has also averaged three total touchdowns per game, 252.8 passing yards per game, a 72.2% completion percentage and a 107.7 passer rating in those games.

The QB has totaled four touchdowns two times on Thursday games and if he does it again this week, it'll be a milestone moment. Allen needs just four total touchdowns to reach the 200 mark in his career.

4. Best on best when it comes to the turnover battle

One interesting storyline this week could be who wins the takeaway battle as both defenses rank top 5 in takeaways. Can the Bills continue to force turnovers against a team that's been one of the best at taking care of the football and their quarterback?

Buffalo has 14 takeaways through seven games, which is good for second-best in the NFL. The Bucs only have six turnovers in six games, which ties for fourth fewest in the NFL. They're turnover margin is the best in the NFL as well, sitting at +7.

QB Baker Mayfield has also only been sacked eight times so far this season, which is the second lowest total in the league. The Bills, on the other hand, have collected 25 sacks this season, which is the second most in the league.

"We're going to put our best up against their best, our strength against their strength and we'll see what happens," assistant head coach and defensive line coach Eric Washington said. "Certainly, we respect what they've been able to do offensively to protect the football and to protect their quarterback. Everybody, I believe, aspires to do that and our job is to disrupt that. It's to win one-on-ones and do anything that we possibly can to affect the quarterback for the benefit of our defense."

Buffalo's defense forced one turnover and picked up one sack against the Patriots in Week 7. In all other games, they've recorded at least more than one takeaway or one sack.

5. Can the Bills make Tampa Bay one dimensional?

After the Bills lost to the Patriots in Week 7, Sean McDermott said the defense needs to do a better job of making opposing offenses one dimensional. McDermott added it starts with him and that making a team one dimensional is a goal they have every week.

Assistant head coach and defensive line coach Eric Washington said doing this starts with being efficient.

"It starts with being really efficient, dynamic, and creating negative plays on first down, which is our philosophy and it's our style of play," Washington explained. "We have to do that with our discipline, our execution, and the nature of our defense is to penetrate up front, which we expect to be disruptive and to get teams off schedule. So that's what you have to do and when you can do that, all of a sudden an offensive play caller a has to call the game from 2nd and 12 or 3rd and 10, 3rd and 8, that's tough. And we can really anticipate what we're going to see in terms of them trying to gain a fresh set of downs."

Buffalo allowed 268 passing yards and 96 rushing yards to the Patriots. New England also scored on the ground and through the air. So far this season the Bills have allowed an average of 201.3 passing yards per game (10th in the NFL) and 128.3 rushing yards per game (23rd).

Through six games, the Buccaneers haven't been the most balanced team. They're averaging 219.8 passing yards per game (15th) and only 77.8 rushing yards per game (29th). They're leading rusher Rachaad White has 266 rushing yards but the next best running back, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, only has 32 rushing yards.

They're also averaging 17.17 points per game (tied for 26th), converting 43.2% of their third downs (10th) and are scoring touchdowns in the red zone 37.5% of the time (t-28th).

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