Buccaneers vs Panthers will kick off week two of the NFL on Thursday Night Football from Charlotte. Both teams are coming off of week one losses, and present some challenges for the other side.
Buccaneers Offense vs Panthers Defense
Jameis Winston was a mess in week one. The former number one overall pick threw three interceptions against the 49ers in a loss. That, paired with a very good secondary from Carolina, makes this a tough matchup for Tampa Bay.
With that being said, Tampa Bay has very capable receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Tight end O.J. Howard is also very capable, but Carolina will have the horses at linebacker to match up with him and Cameron Brate. The Tampa Bay passing game going against the Carolina pass defense will be huge in determining how well Tampa Bay moves the ball as a whole.
The best way for Tampa Bay to move the ball is on the ground though. Ronald Jones was very effective in week one, behind an offensive line that is very solid and can really block for the run.
The battle of the Carolina front seven and the Tampa Bay offensive line will be fascinating.
The main saving grace for Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay passing game is that the Panthers pass rush wasn’t all that strong last week. If that will be the case again, Winston should have time to throw. That, of course, doesn’t guarantee he will avoid interceptions.
Panthers Offense vs Buccaneers Defense
This is a fascinating matchup. Carolina’s offense got off to a slow start last week but finished the game strong as they pushed the Rams until the end. With that being said, Christian McCaffrey was largely a one-man show.
Tampa Bay has quality individual players on its defense, but as a whole, they are just not that good. However, Vita Vea played well in week one, as did Ndamukong Suh. That can play a huge role with them trying to blow up the Panthers offensive line and stop the run game. The difficult part of dealing with the Panthers running game, however, is Cam Newton is more than a threat on the ground.
The running game when Carolina has the ball is going to have a huge part in how many points the Panthers score.
Outside of the running game, McCaffrey is also a great pass catcher of course. Last week he was targeted 11 times, making 10 catches for 81 yards. That’s something Tampa Bay has to be concerned with.
On the outside, Vernon Hargreaves is going to have to play well. D.J. Moore is the best wide receiver on the team. He will probably see a lot of Hargreaves guarding him. Whether or not the Buccaneers decide to trail him has yet to be determined, but that’s probably unlikely.
In total special teams, Carolina appears to have a big advantage. Both teams are dealing with newer kickers, but Michael Palardy is one of the top punters in football. On the other side, Bradley Pinion had a rough game last week but did down one punt inside the 20.
In the return game, Ray-Ray McCloud was good last weekend, and Carolina was just all-around better in coverage.
X-Factor For Each Team
Tampa Bay: Taking care of the ball
Jameis Winston has a propensity to be a turnover machine. Obviously, turnovers play a big role in every football game, but if Winston can protect the ball, Tampa Bay actually has good players on its offense
Carolina: Pass rush
Despite a loss, Carolina played well last week all-around. However, they do need to be more disruptive in the pass rush. Brian Burns was solid for making his NFL debut, and Kawann Short did a good job of being disruptive. However, the pass rush as a whole wasn’t very good. If they can get to the quarterback more, they will force Jameis Winston into turnovers.