Tampa Bay is now 5-4 and firmly in the playoff race. They have a very winnable game this Sunday against division foe Carolina. The Panthers are just 2-7 this season and coming off a trouncing from the hands of the Broncos. The two teams met up in week one in a hotly contested game. Tampa Bay won that game 16-10, but a lot has changed since then. Before the season began, most had the Bucs in the cellar, with Carolina on the up after a strong rookie season by Cam Newton. That has not been the case as Carolina has struggled both offensively and especially defensively all year long. They have played a bit better than their record indicates though, losing a lot of close games.
This is a game that Tampa Bay needs to win. Carolina will be looking to take out the Bucs for their own pride. The game doesn’t truly mean much to them as they are completely out of the playoff race with only 2 wins. However, I know Cam Newton and a most of the team will not lay down the rest of the year. These teams are similar in that they have had many major injuries throughout the season. The only difference is that Tampa has handled them better to this point. Tampa likely be without Eric Wright in this game after aggravating his Achilles injury last game. Quincy Black was recently placed on IR after suffering a potentially serious neck injury. He should be alright in the long run, but his season is over. Impressive rookie Lavonte David will take over as the full time player, which shouldn’t be a downgrade in any way.
The Panthers are a bit of a confused team right now. They look alright one week, and then get torched the next. Their GM is already gone, and Ron Rivera may not be far behind if he can’t salvage any of this season. The running game is the most confusing aspect of their team. After investing so much money in Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, and Mike Tolbert, you would believe that they would have a high powered running attack. That has not been the case this year. They seem to be struggling in getting enough carries for everyone, leaving them mostly cold on the sidelines. That should be a great match up for Tampa’s strong run defense.
This is a game Tampa Bay simply needs to win. Their schedule gets extremely tough after this week. They will face Atlanta twice, Denver, New Orleans, and Philadelphia later this season. The Saints and Eagles haven’t played up to their potential, but both are dangerous teams. Going into this stretch with a 6-4 record would be a lot better than settling at 5-5. The Buccaneers look to make it 4 in a row this Sunday.