The Buccaneers Remain In The Hunt For A Post-Brady Post Season That Could Come Down To A Crucial Game Against The Panthers


The Baker Mayfield experiment just might work out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

When the Bucs signed the quarterback, it was expected that he would be a stopgap between Tom Brady and Caleb Williams, but the Bucs are very much in the hunt for a playoff spot as they lead the NFC South.

Things could be very interesting by the time they play the Carolina Panthers again, which would mark their final game of the regular season. The Panthers are one of two teams who have been eliminated from playoff contention, so there’s nothing to play for at this point, and they’ll have even less to play for by the time they have to face Tampa Bay again.

The Bucs have already played Carolina this season, beating them 21-18 in early December, and will expect to repeat the feat when they lock horns again following the turn of the year. 

The Panthers parted ways with Frank Reich a week before they played the Bucs. The recent game between these two sides was the second in a little over a year in which they played right after firing a head coach. Matt Rhule was fired two weeks before the Panthers beat a Bucs side boasting Brady 21-3.

Given that both Florida and North Carolina have legalized sports betting, there will be plenty of wagers placed on the upcoming fixture.

While the Panthers are unlikely to have anything to play for, sports betting apps in North Carolina should still be active, as fans will probably not want to pass up an opportunity for a parlay.

Wide receiver Mike Evans will have fond memories of the Panthers’ victory. The veteran scored a 75-yard touchdown to join Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, whom many consider the best wideout in the game’s history, to put together 10 straight seasons in which they registered at least 1,000 receiving yards.

“I don’t know how much more you can say. He’s been like this for 10 years now — 60 catches 10 years in a row, 1,000 yards 10 years in a row,” Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles said.

“You know he’s getting the ball. Everybody’s trying to stop him and he makes plays over and over. It’s a credit to him, his work ethic and the way he approaches the game.”

“Happy we got the win most importantly,” Evans added said. “I’ve had a lot of great quarterbacks and offensive coordinators that believed in me, so I really appreciate them. Hopefully, I can keep that streak going for however long my career goes.”

Evans took his receiving yards total to 1,012, adding 10 touchdowns on 61 catches. On Sunday, he had a single catch for eight yards in an important win over Atlanta.

Rice holds an NFL record of 11 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Evans will be looking to tie that next season, but he will have the playoffs on his mind for now.

The wide receiver added another 57 yards and a touchdown vs. the Green Bay Packers on Sunday to take his total to 1077 yards and 11 touchdowns for the season. Mayfield had an impressive outing as he threw for 381 passing yards on 22-of-28 passing for four scores and no interceptions, firing Tampa Bay to a 34-20 win. 

The performance saw him become the first visiting QB to get a perfect passer rating at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers is the only other signal-caller to have done such, but he was with the Packers back then.

“I’ll be honest. December games are all important,” Mayfield said, per ESPN. “This one was very important, but this one won’t matter unless we hit the reset button and move on to next week. It can’t be more special than any other. It is the most important one now, but enjoy it, and then we will move on to next week. That is the mentality we have to have as a unit.”

The game also marked the fourth game in which he made four or more passing touchdowns and a third in which he passed for four scores without an interception. The perfect 158.3 passer rating was the first of his career.

The Buccaneers will face the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Saints before closing the regular season vs. the Panthers.

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