As BucWild stated earlier in the week, there is no better time for the 1-7 Carolina Panthers to make their visit to Tampa. Our defense has to get in some sort of a rhythm, and what better team to do it against that boast a -11 turnover differential. Not to mention, Matt Moore has been shelved for the year and running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams are both a
In their Week 2 meeting, the Bucs picked off both quarterbacks once and combined for a season high of 4 sacks. 2 by Crowder, 1 by both Black and White. It was easily the Bucs finest defensive football game of the year. I would also contend that the Panthers offense is worse off now than it was than. On the contrary, the Bucs offense is light-years ahead of where they were in week 2.
Freeman was 50% but still threw 2 TD's and 0 Int's. The run game added very little, except for when Freeman decided to do it with his legs (43 yards on 4 carries). While the Panthers defense isn't very good either, I would contend they are a lot better than they look on paper. Beason is one of the top MLB's in the league right now. They boast a -3.3% DVOA and are 11th against both the run and pass. It's all impressive considering how often they are on the field and their terrible field position they have to defend (31st in the league).
The Bucs have started to throw more often and with more confidence. Through the first 4 games they averaged 29 passes a game. Over the previous 4, 32.5 passes a game. The air game is their identity now, whether by choice or by lack of production on the ground. They have largely been successful at it. Blount has since come on as a first choice when handing the ball off and Spurlock continues to develop. We are scoring a lot more point since the first few games as our offense finds their groove. All of this leads me to believe that our offense will be good this game.
If we put up 20 points on the Panthers in week two, I expect 26-32 points this week, pending we play aggressive all game. Likewise, I don't expect them to score much more than they did in the first meeting, not with the current injuries. Clausen is terrible. They will have to get a few easy scores on ST, Defense or a fluke big play or two on offense to score more than that. It's possible, sure. I would be surprised if this game was less than a 14 point game. Lofty expectations, but I think that's where both teams are at right now.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 - Carolina Panthers 9