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The Buccaneers are on the road for the second time in three weeks and face arguably their toughest road challenge of the year in the Colts. The Bucs have not fared well outside of Raymond James Stadium and the Colts are currently surging after a 41-15 win over the Bills in Week 11.

However, the Bucs can stop the surge if they're able to take care of business. That all starts with the following matchups.

3. QB Tom Brady vs. LB Darious Leonard

This matchup will be more of the mental nature than the physical, but don't think there won't be some physical components from time-to-time.

Leonard is one of the league's best linebackers and he can do it all. He's responsible for calling out the plays and getting the defense in the right alignment on a play-by-play basis. What he sees from the Bucs offense pre-snap goes a long way toward how the Colts defense reacts.

And it's the opposite for Brady. What he sees pre-snap from Leonard and Co. will have huge ramifications on how the Bucs offense goes about its business. The Colts aren't a complicated defense - they rarely blitz and play mostly zone with a four-man front, but defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus will blitz Leonard and others and throw some defensive wrinkles into his game plan, so it will be up to Brady to point that out when it does in fact happen.

Watching these two try to best each other on a snap-by-snap basis will be fun to witness. 

2. CB Sean Murphy-Bunting vs. WR Michael Pittman Jr.

SMB is the Bucs' do-it-all corner. He can play inside and outside, as well as hold up in run defense. His return from injury last week certainly helped the Bucs defense hold the Giants to 10 points. 

He's going to have a tough matchup this week in Pittman Jr., who is the Colts' primary outside receiver, but also sees plenty of action out of the slot, despite averaging a tad under nine snaps per game in that context, per Pro Football Focus.

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46% of Pittman Jr.'s 81 targets have come out of the slot and so have 44% of his 57 receptions, per Sports Info Solutions. He's also very effective. The former USC Trojan is tied for the ninth-best EPA/target among wide receivers with at least 37 targets out of the slot, per SIS. 

SMB also plays on the defensive left when he's outside in the Bucs base defense, which is where Pittman Jr. spends most of his time when he's on the outside. 

As you can see, Murphy-Bunting should see a nice dose of Pittman Jr. this week and this matchup will have a big hand in how the game plays out.

1. Bucs run defense vs. the Colts run game

We have arguably the league's best rushing attack going up against arguably the league's best run defense. The temperature surrounding this matchup will get turned up even more if Vita Vea and Quenton Nelson are able to play.

But this showdown will still be the primary matchup to watch even if those two don't play. The Colts offensive line and running back Jonathan Taylor are still a very formidable unit without Nelson and the Bucs' front seven without Vea is the same.

The Colts are not shy about how much they want/like to run the ball. Per SIS, their running backs combine for the third-most carries in the NFL and have faced 8+ men in the box on 79 of their 274 carries, which is the fifth-most in the NFL.  Regardless of circumstance, they're effective, evidenced by the first place tie with the Browns for the league's highest EPA/carry in an overall sense. 

It's a diverse attack, too. 141 of the aforementioned 274 carries have come out of 11 personnel. The Colts don't just line up in 12/21 personnel and maul you. They can spread you out and take advantage of you that way, as well as line up and maul you.

The Colts' run game is the lifeblood of their offense, which explains why they are so good at running the ball. The Bucs have to slow down Taylor and Co. if they want a shot at winning this game. 

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