Pitting the Buffalo Bills and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against each other almost seems pointless. Both teams are in rebuilding mode, well out of the playoff picture, and are hoping simply to make it out of the 2013 season in one piece. Both teams are starting rookie quarterbacks, and both have had their bright moments muddied up by a lot of losing. Needless to say, this won't be the most highly watched game of the week.
But if you're excited to see what the future holds for the NFL, then take a gander. For the Bills, E.J. Manuel has the potential to be a star and linebacker Kiko Alonso may already among the league's best linebackers as a rookie. For the Bucs, every week is another tryout for Mike Glennon as perhaps the face of the organization.
These two teams are going through growing pains. This week is yet another opportunity to try to discern how they will ultimately take shape.
Meet the Buccaneers
The Buccaneers had their three-game winning streak snapped by a 21-point loss to the Carolina Panthers last week. Still, compared to an eight-game losing streak to start the season, the loss could not have hurt too badly. The Bucs simply could not muster any rhythm on offense against perhaps the best defense in the NFL. They managed just 206 total yards of offense for the game, and largely stalled after a few promising drives in the first quarter.
Glennon was responsible for two turnovers, including a sack-fumble when the Buccaneers were on the Panthers' 4-yard line down 7-6 late in the first quarter. He otherwise played reasonably well, however, going 14-for-21 for 180 yards and an interception. Still, the third-rounder is not indispensable, especially with the Bucs expected to earn a high pick in a 2014 NFL Draft class that is rich with quarterbacks. Glennon will need to play better than "reasonably well" if he wants to ensure himself a long career in the NFL.
Meet the Bills
The Bills were agonizingly close to stringing together back-to-back wins for the first time since early in the 2012 season last Sunday. They held a 31-24 in the fourth quarter, but gave up a touchdown run late in regulation before falling to the Atlanta Falcons, 34-31, in overtime.
C.J. Spiller had his best game of the season, rushing for 149 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, and allowed Manuel to get by with a serviceable performance passing -- 18-for-32, 210 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers. Unfortunately, fumbles downfield doomed the Bills' chances of winning. Stevie Johnson fumbled at the Falcons' 30-yard line late in regulation, taking away the Bills' shot at a game-winning field goal. The Bills then took over the ball in overtime, but Scott Chandler fumbled just past midfield to set up the Falcons' game-winning drive.
Local Takes: Buccaneers
Mike Glennon has done very well for a rookie, especially a third-round rookie. He's outperformed his draft status and is outperforming every other rookie quarterback. Unfortunately for him, the question he needs to answer is a different one. That question is very simple: can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers upgrade on their starting quarterback in the 2014 offseason?
That's because that's the answer the Bucs will have to find for themselves this offseason. Regardless of what happens in the four remaining games, if (and that's a big if depending on many different things) the Bucs can get a quarterback better than Mike Glennon, they should do so. Not because Mike Glennon is bad, but because you should always take an upgrade at the quarterback position if you can get it. It's too important a position to settle for anything other than the best thing you can get.
Local Takes: Bills
On offense, Buffalo needs to become tougher -- both physically and mentally. As it exists right now, it's very much a finesse offense. That starts up front; the Bills really need to become tougher on their offensive line, and that will probably start by upgrading at left guard and right tackle. Their running game is a finesse game; with all due respect to the tough Fred Jackson, when he's your most physical runner, you have an issue that Frank Summers can't solve if he's playing less than 20 percent of the plays. Buffalo's is a speed-based offense -- C.J. Spiller, T.J. Graham and Marquise Goodwin are key figures, after all -- and their possession-type players are Jackson, Stevie Johnson (who's all about his route-running) and Scott Chandler, who isn't much of a blocker. To take the next step, the Bills need to be able to balance power and finesse on offense, and that will start by acquiring said power.
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
Depends on price, doubt team would trade RT @BucsTalk Is it worth it if bucs trade up for Bridgewater? Assuming Glennon fails to flourish— Sander Philipse (@Bucs_Nation) December 4, 2013
Well, we should bloody well hope so. RT @buffalobills: Doug Marrone: "We want to be better than that"— Buffalo Rumblings (@BuffRumblings) December 2, 2013
@RCummingsTBO -- Buccaneers beat writer
@Bucs_Princess I believe they can give them a good game. If they can keep QB contained they can win. Must run better, though. MUST— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsTBO) December 2, 2013
@mikerodak -- Bills beat writer
Fred Jackson on Choice's release: "It was shocking." Says he and Spiller weren't trying to protest decision by wearing his practice jersey— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) December 4, 2013
From Week 14 picks:
A Schiano Man doesn't bet, but for all the regular joes out there who don't quite measure up to the exacting standards of fascism, we say bet on the Bucs this week. Buffalo's run defense isn't as stingy as it was earlier in the season. The last three opponents have posted triple digit rushing totals for an average of 139 yards per game.
Both teams have lost seven games after blowing a lead this season. Buffalo is 1-4 on the road this year.
The pick: Buccaneers
The Buccaneers are 2.5-point favorites this week, according to Odds Shark. The line is as low as 1.5 points in favor of the Bucs on some sports books.