Last year Baker Mayfield began his season with a potential revenge game against the Cleveland Browns, and this year he ends the season with one against the Panthers. He’ll have already seen Carolina at this point, but it was in Raymond James Stadium and in front of a friendly crowd.
This time he’ll be back in Charlotte in a game that could have a lot on the line.
As strange as it might sound to those outside of Tampa Bay, let’s not count out the possibility that this game helps decide the NFC South title. Last year the Bucs and Panthers played a meaningful game late in the year, and it could happen again against the backdrop of Baker getting some revenge for how things went during his brief with Carolina.
Frank Reich taking over as head coach could mean the Panthers are an improved team this year, and they’ll have frustrating pieces to defend against like Adam Theilen and Miles Sanders. They won’t be anyone’s Super Bowl favorite, but they were already an annoying team to play anyways and they certainly didn’t get worse this offseason.
Even if the Bucs don’t have any skin in the game in terms of winning the South, they could be playing spoiler here. What sweeter way to end a year where your biggest success was getting a high draft pick than twisting the knife on a division rival and taking them down with you?
Buccaneers record: 6-11