Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4) at Carolina Panthers (2-7)
The Buccaneers are finally above .500, but the question is how long will this ride last before we get the next inevitable hiccup. This week’s game against the Panthers is the perfect game to knock sense (or at the very least reality) into the Bucs Kool-Aid drinkers arounf the country.
First off, the Buccaneers are riding a streak of three straight games in which they’ve scored more than 30 points per game. Had they scored a field goal more against the Saints, they’d be on a streak of five game.
Speaking of streaks, Josh Freeman has the most impressive one of all going, as it’s been since the Chiefs game out of the bye that Freeman as thrown an interception. Since his pick early in that game, Freeman has yet to toss the ball to the other team in the four games following that week.
The Panthers don’t boast a top tier secondary, but they know Freeman and they want to spoil the Bucs fun.
Things have been brutal in Carolina this year, and Cam Newton is looking to play spoiler — and spoiling the Bucs recent run of fun would tickle them pink. It’s not a forgone conclusion that the Bucs will falter and lose, but there’s going to come a time this year that this team just looks not so hot. It doesn’t have to be this game but it’s got all the makings.
Newton is looking to explode and take out his frustration on someone, and so is basically the rest of the team. Steve Smith has had a bogus year and this equally bogus secondary isn’t looking like it possesses tools to stop him. Doug Martin had an off game against the Chargers, but he could be in for a battle with Panthers linebacker Luke Kuelchy.
It’s not going to be easy, and won’t be absent the obligatory face palm Buccaneer moments, but that doesn’t mean the Bucs get to 6-4 on the season and shut just about every critics of their at least half-way up.
Location: Bank of America Stadium
Nat’l TV: N/A
Bucs TV: FOX
Away TV: FOX
Announcers: Chris Myers/Tim Ryan
Live Stream: NFL Live Stream
Radio: WDAE 620AM (Tampa), WBT 1110AM (Carolina)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 829 (Bucs Feed), Sirius 804 (Panthers Feed)
Weather: 50°F, Partly Sunny
Line: Panthers -2.0
Key Matchup: Bucs Secondary vs. Cam Newton
It’s really a recurring theme in Tampa — will the secondary blow the game or will the team be able to win despite it? Last week we had some excitement with the Leonard Johnson pick-six, but that’s really like a fat guy doing five push-ups once; don’t expect it all the time. Cam Newton has struggled this year but when he faces bad secondaries he shreds them, to an extent. The Bucs aren’t yet the worst statistical secondary in the NFL, but they’re not good and if there’s a team right now Cam Newton is looking to stunt or breakout against it’s the Buccaneers.
Last Week: Buccaneers beat Chargers 34-24, Panthers lost to Broncos 36-14
Last Meeting: September 9th, 2012 – Buccaneers 16, Panthers 10
Series History (Since 2001): Panthers lead series 13-8
Key Bucs Storyline: Can this high powered offensive attack keep things going?
Opposing View: Is this the week Cam Newton finally corrects things in his game, and brings home a win?
Prediction: Bucs 24, Panthers 20