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Loading The Cannons: Bucs-Panthers Preview

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head To Charlotte To Take On The Carolina Panthers Looking To End A Three Game Losing Streak

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After an embarrassing performance against the Denver Broncos last week,the Buccaneers look to bounce back on the main stage, Monday Night Football.  The Bucs are coming off of three straight losses, and need to find a way to win to salvage hope of a once thought to be promising season.

Their opponent will be the Carolina Panthers, who are also 1-3, but are underperforming even more than the Buccaneers at this point in the season. A year after making the Super Bowl, the Panthers find themselves with two more losses than they had all of last season. The winner of this team remains two games behind the division leading Falcons, but picks up a much needed victory against a division foe that could prove important in the race for the South title.

With both teams looking to avoid falling into irrelevance in the NFC South, it should make for an interesting Monday Night Football matchup.

History is on the Panthers side in this match up as they have owned the Bucs in the all-time series. The Panthers are 20-11 all-time against the Buccaneers, which include six straight victories by the Panthers. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera owns a 8-2 record against the Buccaneers in his coaching tenure, while Dirk Koetter has yet to face the Panthers in his rookie season as head coach.

Buccaneers Offense Vs. Panthers Defense

How does the Bucs offense find success against the Carolina Panthers defense? See last week. The Panthers defense last week was the first defense in NFL history to allow a 300 yard receiver and 500 yard passer in the same contest. The world’s eyes were opened up to one glaring fact that many had forgotten about; the Panthers miss Josh Norman.

The Panthers rank 17th in the NFL in passing yards allowed at 257.5 yards per game, so last week was obviously an outlier, but nevertheless proved the Panthers defense is much more beatable through the air then years passed. The surprise release of cornerback Bene Benwikere this week by  the Panthers thins out their secondary even more. The chemistry between quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver Mike Evans needs to be completely on point and provide fits for the Panthers defense similar to how the Matt Ryan-Julio Jones duo was a week ago.

The Winston-Evans duo however, while formidable, doesn’t strike the same fear into opposing defenses hearts the way Ryan-Jones does.  Winston is going to have to find a second receiver that he can rely upon. Weather it be Vincent Jackson emerging from the shadows, Adam Humphries,or even Cameron Brate, having a reliable second option will go a long way. The Panthers defense felt embarrassed last week and will do what they can to prevent even a minor repeat of last week.

Injuries to the Buccaneers running backs are beginning to pile up. With Doug Martin still nursing a hamstring injury and Charles Sims missing practice all week with a knee injury, it appears Jacquizz Rodgers will be the featured back this week. The Bucs rushing attack already is ranked 27th in the league and things probably won’t get any better this week. Going against the 10th best rushing defense in the league coupled with the fact the Bucs are on their third string running back isn’t going to do the passing game any favors.

Rodgers worked with Koetter when he was an offensive coordinator with the Falcons, but was never a featured back. With Peyton Barber and Russell Hansbrough the other backs on the roster having not recorded a single yard combined between the two of them, that is exactly what will be asked of him. With Luke Kuechly looming on the defensive side, realistic expectations must be curbed, and the Panthers defense will force Jameis Winston to beat them through the air. If the offensive line can keep Jameis comfortable in the pocket, it is a possibility he could do just that.

Buccaneers Defense Vs. Panthers Offense

After taking a gingerly stroll to the end zone on a two point conversion attempt last week, Cam Newton was popped and suffered a concussion that will keep him out of this contest. Normally hearing that the reigning MVP will miss a game would seem like a huge advantage for the opposing team. Not so fast. Derek Anderson the backup quarterback for the Panthers went 2-0 against the Buccaneers two years ago when he faced them, and the Bucs pass defense isn’t exactly earning praises this season.

The Panthers will also be without  two other main contributors on offense in tackle Michael Oher who also has a concussion and running back Jonathan Stewart who continues to tend to a hamstring injury. The Bucs pass defense ranks 12th in the NFL against the run, and the absence of these three players are a big part of the Panthers 7th ranked rushing attack. Fozzy Whittaker is filling in nicely however in Stewart’s absence averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Cam Newton is the leading rusher on the Panthers and they will feel his loss on the ground more than through the air.

So much like the Bucs, it appears the Panthers offense will have to win the game through the air, something that is attainable. The Bucs have given up the second most points in the league largely in part to their pass defense. Although the Bucs as a team have gotten better with penalties than last year, the defensive backfield is still committing way too many penalties. There have been a lot of grumbles about the play of Chris Conte lately, and he needs to clean up his game and find a way to not let the Panthers young receiving core behind him or it will be yet another long day for him.

Gerald McCoy, Robert Ayers, and Clinton McDonald are all doubtful after missing practice all week, while Noah Spence was a limited participant and is listed as questionable. The defensive line is decimated by injuries, but they need to find a way to pressure Derek Anderson and force him into mistakes. Without pressure on Anderson, he will pick apart the Bucs secondary and it will be a long night for the Buccaneers defense as a whole.

As always if you can’t tune in to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Carolina Panthers tonight at 8:30 P.M. EST, The Scrum Sports has you covered! Follow us on Twitter for all the latest on the action in tonight’s game @TheScrumSports.

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