Buccaneers vs. Panthers: Running the ball the way to win

Matt Stamey-US PRESSWIRE

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers must find a way to win on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Can they answer the Call of Duty?

Oh yeah, a sponsored story by Call of Duty on the ways the Bucs can win. Let's talk about the ways Tampa Bay can crush Carolina.

Run the football

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have an explosive passing offense, arguably the best in the league, but they're going up against a quality pass defense. Surprisingly, the Panthers have the 7th-best pass defense in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. The Bucs felt that in their season opener, as Josh Freeman managed to produce just 138 yards through the air - a far cry from his recent explosive aerial exploits.

So how do you beat the Panthers? By running the football. That defensive line has exactly one good player (Charles Johnson) and they can't stop the run. Meanwhile, Doug Martin is leading the league in yards from scrimmage per game. That sounds like a pretty good combination for success.

Hit Cam Newton

The Carolina Panthers have turned to the read option as their base running game. That was an awful decision, as they've been absolutely terrible on offense this year, and the lack of a quality running game has a lot to do with that. The read option also gives players a good opportunity to do something: hit Cam Newton on every play. The Bucs lead the league in tackles for loss, and they should get plenty of those on Cam.

The defensive line has started to be more disruptive with the return of Da'Quan Bowers and some improved play from Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, too, so their pass rush should be better against a leaky Panthers offensive line. Hit Cam Newton in the running game and the passing game, and those Panthers won't go anywhere.

Don't blow coverage

Cam Newton repeatedly hit big passing plays in the first game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and they only barely squeaked out a win. The Bucs must prevent those big plays. Fortunately, the problem was easy to diagnose: the Bucs just blew multiple coverages, leaving receivers wide open. Since then, the Bucs (and Ronde Barber in particular) have been much better at executing their assignments correctly. If they can manage to not blow coverage, they should be fine in the passing game.

By the way, if you're thinking of traveling to Carolina (or live there), Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tickets are still available!

Check out the trailer for Call of Duty, which is available now at Best Buy

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