After being on the road the past two games and having two tough losses, the Bucs return home to an in division game versus the Panthers!
The Bucs had an impressive almost comeback led by back up quarterback, Fitzpatrick, versus the Cardinals after Winston went out with a shoulder injury. Time was just not on the Bucs side that game. Then against the Bills Winston was back, but again time failed them as the Bills scored giving them back the led with 3:12 left in the 4th quarter.
The Panthers who are 4-3 carry many similarities to the Bucs team, the dominate edge the Panthers will have heading in to this weekend’s game is they have a healthier defense than the Bucs currently do, especially with the recent announcement of Noah Spence being out. Both offenses have forces to be reckoned with. Carolina has put rookie RB, Christian McCaffery to full use with 44 receptions, 329 yards, and 2 touchdowns, the only downside to McCaffery’s stats is his 2.5 yards per carry average on 45 rushes…but the Panthers have shown red zone efficiency, which can be a threat to the Bucs defense.
Earlier in the season, the Bucs were showing their ability to own the red zone with tight end, Cameron Brate. As the season continued that became predictable placing a target on Brate. The Bills secondary definitely picked up on that last week, shutting Brate to — touchdowns. As the attention focused on Brate the Bucs began relying on rookie tight end, O.J. Howard, who attained 2 touchdowns against the Bills, keeping the Bucs in last week’s game. As we all know and have seen, Tampa Bay has the reliability of wide receiver, Mike Evans, who as of this week has 34 receptions, 459yards, and 4 touchdowns.
This is projected to be a very close game with a 2.5 margin. If Cam Newton takes advantage of the Bucs many defensive absences due to injury, then I see the Panthers taking the win Sunday. But the Bucs are in need of a win, so I have to take Tampa Bay.