The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are invading Candlestick Park this Sunday, in a battle of 3-1 teams against the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams find themselves at the top of their respective divisions, but are still searching for respect.
Tampa is coming off a 24-17 Monday night victory over the hapless Indianapolis Colts, while the 49ers storm back from a 20 point deficit to stun the Eagles 24-23. Tampa is going to get the edge offensively in this one, but they are going against a very stout rushing defense, as San Fran only allows 74.0 yards per game on average, which is 4th best in the league.
Alex Smith had a good game last week against Philadelphia, most of his stats though came in the second half as he led the team back from 20 points down. Smith didn’t try to play over his head, he didn’t force passes and had no interceptions.
Josh Freeman was equally as good for the Bucs as he went 25/39 for 287 yards and a touchdown. Freeman will be playing a pass defense that isn’t very stout but don’t take that for being careless, they can make plays when needed. Frank Gore had a great game last week on a bad ankle, rushing for 127 yards and a touchdown. He will again be vital to making sure the Tampa defense stays off of Alex Smith.
LaGarette Blount had 127 yards and a touchdown last week against Indy, but it took him 10 more carries than Gore to get there, something that may not be good against one of the league’s best run defense units. I believe the edge though goes to Tampa, but if they can’t run against the 49ers, they will be in a lot of trouble.
Both defenses are good against the run as Tampa ranks 11th against the run, but neither is very good against the pass as San Fran is 27th and Tamps is 21st. The key for both teams is to not let the run game get going for the opposition. The defenses need to make the offenses one dimensional and limit the amount of big plays they give up as both teams are very vulnerable to big plays in the pass game.
These defenses must also get in the opposing QB’s head, you don’t have to sack them a lot but rattle them and both of them will make mistakes. The edge here goes to the 49ers, the run defense is just too good, and since the loss to Dallas, the defense has played great when needed to, to help the team win games.
Overall this should be a very close, and very defense oriented game from both teams. The biggest thing one the line here for both teams is respect, win this Sunday and you validate your early season record. Now losing doesn’t mean the season is over by any means, but the winner of this game is going to have a lot of momentum heading into the following weeks. I believe in the end though that the 49ers will find the home cooking and find a way to win the game, the score San Francisco 24 Tampa 21.