TAMPA, FL — Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) vs Carolina Panthers (3-8)
Location: Tampa, FL
Time: 1:00ET/Noon CT
Announcers: Ron Pitts, Jim Mora Jr, Drea Avent
Weather: Sunny, 85F
Line: Buccaneers by 2
Injury Report: CAROLINA — LB Jason Phillips(OUT), WR Kealoha Pilares (QUESTIONABLE), LB Omar Gaithers (QUESTIONABLE)
TAMPA BAY – DT Gerald McCoy (OUT), DE Micheal Bennett (OUT), QB Josh Freeman (GAME TIME DECISION), DT Brian Price (QUESTIONABLE), S Tanard Jackson (PROBABLE), LB Dekoda Watson (PROBABLE), DE Adrian Clayborn (PROBABLE), DT Albert Haynesworth (PROBABLE), LB Adam Hayward (PROBABLE), TE Kellen Winslow (Not Injury related, Expected to Play)
Key Matchup: Bucs Defense vs. Cam Newton
Last Week: Buccaneers lost to Titans 23-17, Panthers beat Colts 27-19
Last Meeting: November 14, 2010 — Buccaneers 31, Panthers 16
Series History (Since 2001): Panthers lead series 10-7
Last Minute Preview: Now that the Buccaneers season is over, two things can still happen that are mildly interesting. One is that the Bucs will give up and play for a draft spot, which if things keep going the way they’re going the Bucs are looking at a top ten pick. But the other thing is that the Bucs wont gives dear the weight of a losing season and won’t let it scuff their pride any longer.
To be honest, either outcome satisfies me. I’d love to see this team throw down and show people that even though they’re down and most certainly out, they won’t give up. Even when they’re playing for absolutely nothing but pride, it would say a lot about this team if they put out a solid effort. Plus they would avoid falling victim to the Cam Newton effect and would be able to keep their names off the list of teams he’s burned. But this defense is built to be scorched by the run and Cam Newton is, in case you haven’t noticed, a running quarterback and, also in case you haven’t noticed, he’s pretty good on his feet. He took the Falcons to the wire, has gone 400 yards countless times and is a real threat to blow out the Bucs. If Tampa loses this game, not only will it be a new low (losing to the Panthers), but they will officially be in last place, albeit a tie, in the NFC South. Tampa would love a high draft pick to snag a big corner or a defensive horse of some kind, but they can still do it without having the shame of losing to the Panthers.
The game is meaningless outside of Carolina and Tampa, and really the only weight it carries beyond that surrounds Cam Newton, but the Bucs need to snap out of this five game losing streak. It’s getting very hard to defend a team that’s this talented and can’t seem to win a game.