For the third time in franchise history, the Buccaneers travel overseas to “host” the Carolina Panthers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. With this being a divisional matchup, Tampa Bay is already in a must-win situation on Sunday. The Panthers, of course, will be without Cam Newton again.
Key To Winning: Contain Christian McCaffrey
Christian McCaffrey has clearly become the star on Carolina’s offense. He had a monster game last week against Jacksonville with 176 yards and two scores on the ground. He added to that six receptions for 61 yards and another touchdown. Even for his high standards, that was a huge game.
Obviously, the Bucs have faced McCaffrey and the Panthers before this season. The defense took him completely out of the game. If Todd Bowles can find a way to duplicate the defense’s extraordinary performance from Week 2, Tampa Bay should win this tough game. It certainly helps that rookie Devin White is expected to play again after his injury. White’s speed should significantly reduce McCaffrey’s capabilities, especially in the passing game.
Pass Rush Important For Bucs
Newton is still out with an injury, which means that Kyle Allen will get another start under center. Allen took over in Week 3 and has done a respectable job so far, as the Panthers won all three games. He has a completion percentage of 67 percent and has five passing touchdowns. Though Allen has yet to throw an interception, he has lost four fumbles.
Consequently, pressuring Allen should be the top priority on defense, especially in regards to how bad Tampa Bay’s secondary has been this season. Teddy Bridgewater, for instance, looked like Superman against the Buccaneers’ defensive backfield. The Bucs contained Alvin Kamara, but the Saints did not need him to win. In order for Tampa Bay to avoid a likely scenario in London, creating a pass rush will be essential.
Peyton Barber And Ronald Jones Need To Have A Big Game
Since it will most likely be a rainy game, expect both teams to run the ball early and often. If the Bucs want to leave Europe with an even record, Barber and Jones will have to rush for at least 150 yards combined. Not an easy task if you are forced to play without two starting offensive linemen. Alex Cappa and Demar Dotson will both miss Sunday’s game. Needless to say, that is terrible news for a unit that has been struggling mightily.
Conclusion: Bucs Lose An Ugly Game
All in all, the Bucs defense does a decent job keeping McCaffrey in check and rushing the passer again. Offensively, however, it will not be enough to beat Carolina this time. Winston is under constant pressure as the offensive line cannot buy him any time. He will finish the night with one touchdown and three giveaways.