When Tampa is running: The Colts’ front seven is pretty decent. They looked worse than they are in their first two games because the Kerry Collins never gave them a rest. They looked a little better than they are against the Steelers – Mendenhall had 18 carries and just 37 yards – because the Steelers’s offensive line is developing. However, you can tell form last week that the Bucs will find a way to get their bowling ball running backs going against a Colts defense that still has some of the small-speedy remnants of years past and is banged-up. Edge: Tampa, slightly.
When Tampa is throwing: The Colts’ secondary is missing its best player and their pass rush has its second straight Goliath to take down (Roethlisberger last week). The Bucs have found out about their weapons and Freeman will get into a rhythm quickly. Edge: Tampa.
When Indianapolis is running: Expect a lot of Delone Carter as Addai will be used more in protection and check-downs on third down. Painter will open up the passing game more which will open things up for the run, that is averaging just 4.3 ypc, against this Bucs run defense that is energized at home, having tasted success last week against Michael Turner. Edge: even.
When Indianapolis is throwing: Look, I think Curtis Painter is going to be good. He can move around, he showed a nice trajectory on intermediate and deep passes in preseason and has a good understanding of a complex offense. He won’t have his best game will be in his debut. Raheem will blitz him a lot but will back off and the Bucs defenders can win these match-ups. Edge: Tampa, slightly.
Prediction: Curtis Painter earns the starting job but the Bucs have decided to put on a show for the home crowd on Monday night. Mike Williams feeds off the crowd and his own determination and scores twice. Buccaneers 35, Colts 31.