Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3, 4-6 ATS) at Indianapolis Colts (6-5, 7-4), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Buccaneers Stats and Trends
Tampa has failed to cover in its last five road games.
The Buccaneers are 4-1 toward unders in their last five games.
Tom Brady posted a ho-hum 307/2 passing for 20.3 FP against the Giants in Week 11, which gives him 2+ TD passes in six straight games and in 8-of-10 contests. He attempted another 46 passes last week, and he’s now averaging 42.3 attempts and 317.7 passing yards per game. The Colts limited Josh Allen to 209/2 passing and 6.0 YPA, but they’re still giving up the fourth-most FPG (20.8) to QBs.
Mike Evans pulled even with Cooper Kupp for the league lead in receiving TDs with his 10th score in Week 11. He’s now scored in four straight games with six total TDs in that span, and he’s registered 12+ FP in four consecutive games and in 8-of-10 contests. The Colts are giving up a league-high 1.5 receiving TDs per game to WRs after Stefon Diggs got them for two scores last week.
Chris Godwin has 6+ catches in four straight games since Brown left the lineup after catching all six of his targets for 65/1 receiving against the Giants. He’s erupted for 19+ in three of his last four games and in 5-of-10 contests so far. The Colts are giving up the fifth-most FPG (39.5) to WRs this season.
Antonio Brown (heel) is nearing a potential and Brady could certainly use him back in the lineup with Tyler Johnson disappointing in his absence. AB posted 13+ FP in four of his first five games before his injury knocked him out of the lineup.
Rob Gronkowski finally made a full-time return to the lineup last week, and he went right back to looking dominant with 6/71 receiving on eight targets against the Giants. He’s now posted 4+ catches in his four full contests while averaging 18.9 FPG in those games. The Colts have been ripped for 12+ FP by individual TEs in four straight games (Knox, Arnold, Griffin, Swaim).
Leonard Fournette did the heavy lifting in this backfield last week, posting 10/35 rushing and 6/39 receiving but Ronald Jones vultured a rushing touchdown. Fournette has still posted 13+ FP in six of his last seven games, and he has 3+ catches in nine of 10 contests. The Colts are giving up just 117.4 scrimmage yards per game and the fewest FPG (18.5) to RBs.
Brolley’s Colts Stats and Trends
The Colts have covered four straight games as an underdog, and they’re 6-2 ATS in their last eight games overall.
Indy is 4-1 toward overs in its last five games.
The Colts have won five of their last six games, and they’re leading the league with a +15 turnover differential with at least one takeaway in every game.
Jonathan Taylor cemented his status as the back to beat down the stretch with his 53.4 FP outburst against one of the league’s premier defenses in Week 11. Taylor and the Colts’ offensive line dominated the Bills, piling up 32/185/4 rushing and 3/19/1 receiving in Indy’s 41-15 victory as seven-point road underdogs. Taylor has now posted 19+ FP in eight straight games thanks to 14 TDs in that span, and he’s totaled 110+ scrimmage yards in each of those contests. JT is averaging 24.1 FPG, which is just .1 FPG off of Derrick Henry’s pace in just eight games. Christian McCaffrey (20.7) and Austin Ekeler (22.2 FPG) are the only RBs with realistic chances to run him down for the top spot with seven weeks remaining. JT runs into another tough matchup against the Buccaneers this week, who are giving up a league-low 56.2 rushing yards per game to RBs, but they could be without Vita Vea (knee) again.
Carson Wentz didn’t have to do too much with Taylor dominating last week, completing just 11/20 passes for 106 yards (5.3 YPA) and one TD against the Bills. He’s thrown for just one TD in his last two games after throwing for 2+ TDs in six straight games in Weeks 4-9. Tampa hasn’t allowed an individual passer to post 16+ FP against them in four straight games.
Michael Pittman also didn’t have to do much in a tough matchup, finishing with 2/23 receiving on five targets. He’s now seen six or fewer targets in five of his last six games, but he’s still managed 12+ FP in four of those contests. The Buccaneers have been one of the top pass-funnel defenses this season, facing a league-high pass rate 66.9%, but they haven’t faced Taylor yet. The Buccaneers limited Kenny Golladay to a 12-yard catch on two targets last week.
Jack Doyle has been the best secondary receiver in the last two weeks, with 6/61 receiving on 35 routes. Zach Pascal has matched Pittman in routes (52) in that span with just 2/9 receiving, while T.Y. Hilton has 3/31 receiving on seven targets and 39 routes. The Buccaneers are giving up the 16th-most passing yards per game (243.7) to opposing offenses.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.3 (11th)
Plays per game: 69.1 (8th)
Pass: 64.5% (9th) | Run: 35.5% (24th)
Pace: 30.1 (28th)
Plays per game: 64.4 (26th)
Pass: 52.8% (30th) | Run: 47.2% (3rd)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
What the Colts come out and do offensively will be very interesting. Jonathan Taylor is averaging a face-melting 6.3 YPC on 18.9 carries per game over the last eight weeks – you don’t go away from this type of talent when he’s shredding everyone. We saw that on full display last week as Taylor hammered the Bills for a Derrick Henry-esque 32/185/4 rushing line. However, with Vita Vea back this week, this Bucs’ run defense will present the Colts and Taylor with their toughest task yet. Running backs against Tampa simply do not get volume as the Bucs’ are facing a league-low 17.6 carries per game. It’s strength on strength and Taylor is good enough to overcome any matchup, but I think the Colts are going to be forced to throw a bit more here.
On the other hand, the Buccaneers are the same team every single week. They play fairly fast, generate a ton of play volume, and throw all of the time. Over their last eight games, the Bucs’ are the third-most pass-heavy team when the game is within a score (67.9%), the eighth-most pass-heavy team when trailing (71.1%), and they throw at the fourth-highest rate when leading (60.6%). As a result, Tom Brady has dipped below 36 attempts once all season and is averaging a career-high 42.3 passes per game.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
In Week 12, Mike Evans (6-foot-5) will line up across from 6-foot-1 Xavier Rhodes (6-foot-1) on at least half of his routes. Rhodes is permitting his coverage to collect 1.72 YPCS (fifth-most), 0.34 FP/CS (fifth), 0.23 AY/CS (24th), and a 105.3 TPR (22nd-highest). With Cover 2 and 6 shells featured by the defense, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that Rhodes attempts to jam his assignments at the line at the 14th-highest rate. And he’s been the 11th-most targeted corner this season. Best of all, he’s allowing the fifth-highest rate of 20-plus-yard receptions.
Another receiver that will have a significant size advantage on Sunday, Michael Pittman Jr. (6-foot-4, 220-pounds) will work across from Sean Murphy-Bunting (6-foot-0, 195-pounds). Murphy-Bunting will be playing in his second game removed from his IR stay after suffering a nasty elbow dislocation in Week 1. Due to their extensive list of outside corner injuries, SMB has been tasked with kicking outside from the slot to work at left corner. We can expect to see Murphy-Bunting’s numbers improve, but he’s currently clearing his coverage for 2.26 YPCS, 0.55 FP/CS, 1.62 AY/CS, and a 111.5 TPR (all unqualified). Pittman will square off with Murphy-Bunting on at least half of his routes on Sunday.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
As someone who was trying to work ahead this week in order to enjoy my Thanksgiving holiday as much as humanly possible, I want to thank Frank Reich and the Colts for getting the ball into the hands of their two players who matter for fantasy — RB Jonathan Taylor and WR Michael Pittman.
Here’s Graham from Stat-Pack:
Jonathan Taylor is on a heater for the ages. He’s finished as the RB2, RB3, RB5, RB6, RB2, RB5, and RB1 over his last seven games.
After his 53.4 FP bomb against the Bills, JT is averaging 29.3 FPG since Week 4.
Just for some perspective, Christian McCaffrey is averaging 28.4 FPG over his last 24 fully healthy games dating back to 2019.
With JT running hotter than the sun, Carson Wentz has been more of a game-manager and has now been at 30 or fewer pass attempts in four of his last 6 games.
As a result, Michael Pittman’s volume has fallen off. Pittman is averaging just 6.3 targets per game over his last six outings after getting 8.6 targets/game in Weeks 1-5.
Pittman has been held to six or fewer targets five times in his last 6 games.
Indeed, the Colts are 5-1 in their last six games. Carson Wentz has 20, 26, 51, 30, 34, and 20 pass attempts in those six games, respectively. Guess which game of those the Colts lost?
I think Wentz will have to throw it more in this game — the Bucs’ have the NFL’s #4 run defense by DVOA, and G Quenton Nelson (ankle — questionable) is banged up, while Bucs DT Vita Vea (knee) has a chance to play. But the Colts are going to stick with what they do, and that’s give the ball to Taylor. I’d just expect a few more targets for Pittman in this one than they’ve given him in recent weeks. And Bucs CB Carlton Davis (quad) isn’t yet ready to come off the IR.
Another encouraging injury update for Bucs, who will need Vea against Colts' strong rushing attack. https://t.co/ryjueg91kt— Greg Auman (@gregauman) November 23, 2021
The Bucs also don’t seem likely to have WR Antonio Brown (ankle) back this week, though coach Bruce Arians told reporters that he is “making progress.” With Mike Evans dealing with a tight back (he has no gameday designation), Chris Godwin should be in a position to put up points against a defense that gives up a ton of production to opposing WRs.
Godwin has averaged 19.5 FPG without Brown in the lineup this year, and 14.5 with him in it. For reference, that’s essentially the difference between Justin Jefferson (WR5) and Amari Cooper (WR23).
TE Rob Gronkowski played just 59% of the Bucs’ offensive snaps last week — his fewest in a full game — but he was still targeted 8 times, hauling in 6/71. This is a Colt defense that hemorrhages production to tight ends.
Here’s Scott Barrett from Start/Sit:
If Gronkowski suits up, you have little choice but to start him. Through four mostly-healthy games, Gronkowski averages 7.3 targets, 63.8 YPG, and 17.9 FPG. If over the full season, those numbers would rank 4th-, 4th-, and 1st-best among all TEs. He’s seen at least one end zone target in every game thus far, and Tampa Bay is expected to score 4 touchdowns this week (28.0-point implied point total). And his on-paper matchup is excellent; Indianapolis ranks 2nd-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing TEs (+4.7). Start him this week with confidence as a mid-range TE1.
My feeling is this will be a big week for Tom Brady and the Bucs’ passing game. I like the way they played last week against the Giants, and I think they match up well with the Colts.