Buffalo Bills (7-5, 6-5-1 ATS) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3, 6-6), 4:25 p.m.
Brolley’s Bills Stats and Trends
The Bills are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as an underdog and they’ve played over the total in each of those six games.
Buffalo is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 road games.
Josh Allen struggled in a wind-filled contest with the Patriots, completing 15/30 passes for 145 yards (4.8 YPA) and one TD and he added 6/39 rushing considering, which was a bit disappointing considering the conditions. Allen should be given a pass for the passing numbers in that contest, but he has now averaged 6.0 YPA or worse in four of his last six games. The Buccaneers are facing the most pass attempts per game (39.8) but they’re allowing just the 12th-most passing yards per game (261.3) to QBs.
Stefon Diggs finished with 4/51 receiving on a team-high seven targets last week, but he nearly had a 5/95/1 receiving night but he couldn’t quite haul in a 44-yard TD pass in extremely windy conditions. It was just his second game with fewer than 12 FP this season and it snapped a run with six TDs in a six-game span. The Buccaneers are allowing the eighth-most receptions per game (13.6) and the 15th-most FPG (35.4) to the position.
Emmanuel Sanders has fallen below 30 receiving yards in five of his last six games with just 15/168/0 receiving on 28 targets in that span. The Buccaneers are giving up just 11.6 YPR to WRs this season.
Cole Beasley hasn’t been much better than Sanders, reaching 50+ receiving yards in five straight games with just 20/128/0 receiving on 26 targets in that span. He does have the better matchup than Sanders after Russell Gage feasted in this spot last week with 11/130 receiving on 12 targets.
Dawson Knox had a miserable performance on MNF with a bad drop and critical false start penalty on Buffalo’s final drive on his way to finishing with 2/14 receiving on six targets. Knox has fallen below 35 receiving yards in four of his last five games, but he does have an 80-yard game and a two-TD game in that sample to stay afloat. Kyle Pitts went for 4/48 receiving on seven targets in this matchup last week, and the Bucs have given up just one TD to a TE in their last six games.
Buffalo’s backfield is a complete mess with three backs involved last week. Devin Singletary led the group with a 48% snap share and 36 scrimmage yards followed by Zack Moss (41%, 23) and Matt Breida (12%, 8) in an ugly performance against the Patriots. The Buccaneers are giving up 3.9 YPC and the fewest rushing yards per game (63.8) to RBs, but Singletary and Breida are best suited to potentially have some success as receivers with Tampa giving up a league-high 7.3 catches per game to the position.
Brolley’s Buccaneers Stats and Trends
The Bucs have covered in four straight home games.
Tampa Bay is 5-2 toward unders in its last seven games.
Tom Brady is coming off his sixth game with 4+ TD passes and his sixth game with 300+ passing yards in their victory over the Falcons. Tampa’s passing attack has been missing the same downfield pop since Antonio Brown (heel/suspension) left the lineup. Brady is averaging 7.1 YPA in the last six games without AB after averaging 7.7 YPA through the first six weeks of the season. The Bills have been one of the league’s best pass defenses all season even before the Patriots attempted just three passes against them last week. They’re giving up just 11.2 FPG to QBs but this will be their first real test with top CB Tre’Davious White out of the lineup
Rob Gronkowski has been absolutely dominant in his six full contests this season, averaging peak-Gronk numbers with 18.8 FPG and he has three games with two touchdowns. He ripped the Falcons for 4/58/2 receiving on eight targets (16% share), which moved Gronk and Brady into second place in career touchdowns by a QB-receiver combo. They scored their 89th and 90th touchdowns together to pass Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers, and they need 23 more scores to pass Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning for the all-time record. Gronk has posted 8+ targets and 55+ yards in each of his three games since returning to the lineup in Week 11, which coincides with Brown being out of the lineup. He’s not playing in his hometown of Buffalo this week, but he has 12 career touchdowns in 15 games against the Bills.
Chris Godwin is coming off a single-game franchise record with 15 catches against the Falcons, which he turned into 143 yards. It was his fourth game with 100+ yards, and he’s hit 19+ FP in four of his last six games with AB out of the lineup. The Bills are giving up the fourth-fewest catches per game (11.1) to WRs.
Mike Evans scored the fourth-most FPG among Tampa’s skill players last week, but he still posted 16.9 FP on 7/99 receiving on 10 targets. He hasn’t scored in two games after scoring 10 times in a nine-game span in Weeks 2-11. The Bills have allowed a league-low three TDs to WRs this season but Evans won’t have to deal with White this week.
Leonard Fournette kept on rolling with another 22.2 FP last week, which gives him 13+ FP in eight of his last nine games. He has 16+ touches in four straight games thanks to a whopping 28/163 receiving on 31 targets in that span, and he’s scored five times since their Week 9 bye. The Bills are giving up the sixth-fewest FPG (20.9) to RBs despite the Patriots’ RBs (31.4 FP) and Jonathan Taylor (53.4) ripping them in recent weeks.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.3 (11th)
Plays per game: 61.6 (21st)
Pass: 66.1% (4th) | Run: 33.9% (29th)
Pace: 26.7 (9th)
Plays per game: 65.0 (11th)
Pass: 65.9% (6th) | Run: 34.1% (27th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
The Week 14 slate is filled with a ton of mediocre matchups and middling totals… but not here. Game of the week!
After getting embarrassed on national TV last week, the Bills have got to be steaming mad going into a much warmer environment this week in Tampa. Buffalo has exchanged good scoring performances for bad ones (26 > 6 > 45 > 15 > 31 > 10) over the last six weeks and they’ll certainly need one of their boom games here to keep up with Tampa.
Not only is this game the second-fastest game on the slate in adjusted pace (trailing Cardinals-Rams on MNF), these two offenses should key up eachother’s play volume with extremely pass-heavy plans. No matter how this game plays out, the Bucs and Bills are going to do what they do: Live and die by Tom Brady and Josh Allen. Get this…
Over the last eight weeks, the Bucs are 1st in pass rate in close games, they’re the 6th-most pass-heavy team when trailing, and 4th-most pass-heavy when leading
In this same span, the Bills rank 5th in pass rate in close games, 5th when trailing, and 4th when leading
So, yeah. There should be plenty of volume to go around here – especially on the Bills side. Buffalo has struggled to run the ball all year and I don’t think that’s going to change here against this Bucs’ run defense that is allowing a league-low 63.8 YPG to RBs.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Mike Evans didn’t have the PPR outburst numbers comparable to Chris Godwin’s, but his 7/99/0 line is far from a disappointment. If one individual player on the Buccaneers’ offense was set to face a shutdown opponent, fading would be the logical move. But the entire Buffalo secondary is represented by crazy good numbers on paper. But those numbers have yet to adjust for the absence of Tre'Davious White.
Jamel Dean — who is expected to clear concussion protocol — will be sheriffing the side of the field Emmanuel Sanders is set to inhabit. And Dean has been one of the top-five corners since the very beginning of Tampa Bay’s hot streak late last season that resulted in a Super Bowl victory. On the season, Dean is ghosting his coverage with 0.68 YPCS (fifth-fewest), 0.15 FP/CS (fourth-fewest), 0.12 AY/CS (12th-fewest), and a 56.7 TPR (second-lowest). Blindly point a finger at any other wideout set to play meaningful snaps. He’ll post a better outing than Sanders this week.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
While last week’s windy, frigid conditions in Buffalo are supposed to be ideal for the home team, the Bills were completely unable to run the football in a game that demanded it, and any mistakes made by QB Josh Allen and the passing game were just heightened. Allen certainly wasn’t perfect — he had a couple of opportunities to hit Emmanuel Sanders for big gains that weren’t realized — but he played well enough to win. He was sabotaged by the offense around him.
It’s serious nut-cutting time for the Bills, who are running out of time to win the AFC East they were supposed to run away with this year.
Very serious demeanor at practice today for the Bills. Emmanuel Sanders broke down the huddle before practice started. Tough to see from my angle but @danfetes got a great shot #BillsMafia @WKBW pic.twitter.com/B6uumtFG9W— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) December 9, 2021
We know we’re playing Stefon Diggs, but Sanders has disappeared. Over his first six games: 4 receptions and 68.8 yards (on 6.5 targets) per game. His last six: 2.5 receptions and 28 yards per game (on 4.7 targets) per game. He’s really hard to start right now.
And what’s up with Cole Beasley? He’s basically disappeared. Here’s Scott Barrett from Start/Sit:
“From Weeks 6-9, Beasley averaged 11.0 targets per game and 16.0 FPG. The next week, he played on just 16% of the team’s snaps due to injury. And in the three games since, he’s averaged only 4.3 targets and 6.0 FPG.
Initially, I wanted to blame this on injury, but Beasley has practiced in full in each of the last two weeks (minus veteran’s rest). Maybe he is banged up, or maybe not, but either way it does seem as though TE Dawson Knox has supplanted him in the pecking order (we’ll get to him a little later).
And, in addition to his recent string of down-games, his bottom-5 matchup makes him even more difficult to trust this week. Tampa Bay is the league’s No. 1 reverse-slot funnel, ranking 3rd-best in FPG allowed to slot WRs (10.1), but 2nd-worst in FPG allowed to outside WRs (23.9). So, look for big games from Knox and the other WRs, but we shouldn’t be anticipating too much from Beasley.”
As Scott alluded to, we need to talk Dawson Knox. He had an atrocious game last week with drops and penalties, but the Bills seem to still be targeting him heavily. Here’s Scott:
“A few weeks back we talked about how Knox was looking eerily similar to 2020 Robert Tonyan. At that point, Knox ranked 7th among all TEs in FPG (11.8), despite averaging just 4.0 targets per game (24th). Like Tonyan, he was obscenely efficient, averaging 2.94 fantasy points per target, an all-time great mark.
This made me nervous, anticipating a heavy regression to the mean. And though that’s come — he’s fallen short of his volume-based expectation by 3.0 or more points in three of his last four games — he’s helped to offset the impact with a massive increase in volume. He averages 12.8 XFP/G over the last 3 weeks (5th-most), and has seen his route share jump from 70% to 90%.
This newfound surge in volume has left me far more bullish on Knox’s prospects of returning mid-range TE1 production throughout the remainder of the season (he currently ranks 7th in FPG with 12.0). And, in any case, he’s clearly a mid-range TE1 this week. This game offers a massive 53.5-point over/under, and Tampa Bay is especially vulnerable to TEs, ranking 9th-worst in FPG allowed (14.6).”
We also know there’s a high likelihood the Bills’ run game, already one of the most anemic in the NFL, is going to struggle against the Bucs’ elite run defense this week. And last week, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss were back to splitting snaps following an early fumble by Matt Breida (which was charged to Allen). But Singletary and Moss have been bad this year, and I think the Bills probably should have stuck with Breida given the “spice” — as Diggs called it — he gave the offense the last few weeks.
Anyway, how good has the entire Buccaneer offense been? Tom Brady, Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Rob Gronkowski have all been elite fantasy options. Just how good? Here’s Scott from XFP:
“Through 6 full games, Rob Gronkowski averages 8.0 targets per game, 14.0 XFP/G, 72.7 YPG, and 18.8 FPG. Among all TEs, those numbers rank 4th, 4th, 1st, and 1st (22% more FPG than next-closest, Travis Kelce). Heck, among WRs, he ranks 15th in YPG and 7th in FPG… At age 32, Gronkowski has shown no signs of slowing down. He ranks 2nd-best among all TEs in PFF receiving grade, he leads all players at all positions in end zone targets per game (1.14), and he’s eclipsed an 80% route share in each of his last 2 games (up from 59%).
Since Week 4, Leonard Fournette averages 14.4 carries, 6.7 targets (most), 0.97 XTD (3rd-most), 20.4 XFP (2nd-most), and 21.1 FPG (4th-most)… He’s now clearly a full-on bell cow, and, on the juggernaut-like Tampa Bay offense, with predominantly excellent gamescript, clearly a top-5 fantasy RB… And like Gronkowski, his usage is significantly better of late. His market share over the backfield XFP has jumped from 61% to 77% over the last 4 weeks. And he’s played on 84% of the team’s snaps over the last 2 weeks, up from 60%. And, what’s most impressive is his involvement in the passing game. He’s seen at least 5 targets in 8 of his last 9 games, and averages 7.8 targets per game over his last 4. And he’s productive as well, averaging 14.1 receiving FPG over his last 4 games. (For perspective, Christian McCaffrey averages 13.1 receiving FPG throughout his career.)
Antonio Brown hasn’t played since Week 6, but averages 19.1 FPG, which ranks 6th-most among all WRs across the full season… In games all 3 WRs were active, Brown led in FPG (19.1), well above Mike Evans (15.8) and Chris Godwin (14.7). However, he ranked third in XFP/G (14.7), closely behind Evans (16.4) and Godwin (15.9).
Since Week 7, Chris Godwin averages 10.2 targets per game (7th), 16.8 XFP/G (11th), and 20.3 FPG (4th).
Over the same span, Evans averages: 7.3 targets per game (30th), 13.3 XFP?G (30th), and 16.7 FPG (11th).
Congrats to those of you who went all-in on this offense. Basically every Tampa Bay player was a massive win at their respective ADPs. Unless, of course, you drafted Ronald Jones.”