Imagine picking a better week to quickly move forward from than Week nine against the Saints. It’s time to get back on track and what better way to do so than against another division rival. This week the Buccaneers face off against the Panthers in Charlotte.
Despite coming off a four game losing streak, this Panthers team has been in every game played until the very end. All matchups were decided by a single touchdown or less. What does that tell Bruce Arians after getting humiliated at home? Do not come in unprepared and over confident.
This rematch ahead with the Panthers is crucial to complete the sweep and to stay in the hunt for the division lead. Let’s review their previous matchup and see what’s new with the Panthers.
Here’s How The Panthers Measure Up
Panther fans and fantasy football players were elated this past week as the return of the “Rushing King” was here. Christian McCaffrey spent the last six weeks on the injured reserve with a high ankle sprain injury after playing the Buccaneers in week two.
After a triumphant return of shear dominance, it sounds like the Panthers can be without his services yet again with a shoulder injury. He is currently listed as questionable and likely out this Sunday.
- Rush Yards/Gm 18th (109.9) / Pass Yards/Gm 11th (259.3)
- Rush Touchdowns/Gm 8th (1.2) / Pass Touchdowns/Gm 28th (1.2)
- Percentage of Rush plays/Gm 40th (40.72%) / Percentage of Pass Plays/Gm 15th (59.28%)
- Rush Yards allowed/Gm 13th (114.3) / Pass Yards/Gm 20th (247.4)
- Rush Touchdowns/Gm 23rd (1.3) / Pass Touchdowns/Gm 8th (1.4)
- Sacks/Gm 31st (1.0) / Turnover Margin (+3)
Taking these rankings into consideration, these do not normally reflect a three win football team. A positive turnover margin and several top 15 league ranking categories usually lead to a different outcome.
What We Might Expect
Fortunately, we have the power of hindsight this week when looking at the Buccaneers’ next opponent. Doing a quick rewind, here’s how the relatively new Panthers squad faired against the Buccaneers in Week two
- Teddy Bridgewater: 367 yards. 0 Touchdowns. 2 INT’s. 78% completions (33/43)
- Christian McCaffrey: 18 carries for 59 yards and 2 Touchdowns
- DJ Moore: 8 catches for 120 yards / Robby Anderson: 9 catches for 109 yards
- Allowed 217 yards passing with 1 INT and 119 yards Rushing with 3 Touchdowns. No sacks.
One stat not noted here is the contribution from ‘back up’ Running Back Mike Davis who also posted a 8 receptions for 74 yard day. Again, as a back up. Even if McCaffrey doesn’t suit up on Sunday, Mike Davis has proven to be a viable alternative for the Panthers. From Week 3 to Week 8, Davis put up 352 yards rushing and 204 yards receiving with 4 total Touchdowns. That would rank him as the 4th best Running Back in football during that time frame.
Another surprising development over the course of the year has been the ascension of Robby Anderson. For most, the Wide Receiver to watch for Carolina was expected to be DJ Moore. To his credit, (Moore) has been a productive, but Anderson has elevated himself to be the WR1 on this offense.
Stats to date
- Robby Anderson: 80 Targets, 60 Receptions, 751 Yards, 1 Touchdown
- DJ Moore: 62 Targets, 35 Receptions, 640 Yards, 3 Touchdowns
In addition, the Panthers have found a way to successfully use Curtis Samuel in multiple facets of the offense. Just another weapon the Buccaneers will have to account for defensively.
For the now reeling Buccaneers offensive line, without Ali Marpet, the lack of a pass rush from Carolina might give them a sigh of relief. This Panthers Defense is definitely a cure for what ails the Buccaneers offense as well.
After a catastrophic hit to the teams momentum and confidence, the Buccaneers will need to make a statement this week against a very winnable game. However, they also should remember how close other winnable games have been this year. Complacency is a season killer.