The Buccaneers come to Cincinnati seeking their fourth consecutive road win (over the last two seasons) and a third overall win in 2010 to match last season’s victory total. The Bengals? They are just hoping to find out what they are all about. Cincinnati has struggled to get its offense, defense and special teams in synch. With the bye week looming, the Bengals are hoping to rectify their ills this week.
Keys for the Bengals
• Improve the pass rush. The Bengals rank last in the NFL in sacks, having brought down opposing quarterbacks only three times in four games this season. Cleveland quarterback Seneca Wallace was able to avoid pressure last week and keep several plays alive that led to the Browns’ 23–20 win against the Bengals.
• Touchdowns, not field goals. Kicker Mike Nugent has been great for Cincinnati, converting 10-of-11 field goal attempts, but the Bengals want to increase his extra point attempts. They’re getting to red zone, but in 13 such drives they’ve settled for field goals seven times while scoring only five touchdowns.
Keys for the Bucs
• Find the running game. The Buccaneers are averaging only 96 yards per game on the ground, a stat that doesn’t fit well with coach Raheem Morris’ vision for his team. Cadillac Williams may have to change his nickname if his average of 2.6 yards per carry doesn’t start improving soon.
• Don’t turn the ball over. One of the reasons for Tampa Bay’s good start this season is that the Bucs are plus-4 in turnover margin. The Bengals have forced four turnovers in each of their two wins but have a total of one takeaway in their losses at New England and Cleveland. Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman must make good decisions and look out for Cincinnati cornerback Leon Hall, who has interceptions in each of the last three games.
The Bengals are in a desperate kind of mode even though it’s just Week 5. After the bye, they travel to Atlanta before hosting Miami and Pittsburgh and then hitting the road to Indianapolis. That’s a tough stretch that would be tougher at 2–3 than 3–2.