Here are my three key matchups for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on offense.
Mike Williams vs Chris Gamble
In the past two games, Mike Williams has looked like the Mike Williams of old. In both games he caught at least six passes for over 80 yards and notched a touchdown. If that's a sign of things to come, Williams can be very important for the Buccaneers. Given the fact that the quarterback throwing to him will either be a backup or injured, Williams will have to be at his best to be decisive.
Of course, Williams will likely match up with cornerback Chris Gamble, who has been a pretty good player for the Panthers for a very long time. Can he beat the veteran, or will Mike Williams' sophomore slump continue?
Donald Penn vs Charles Johnson
The Panthers spent a lot of money this offseason, and Charles Johnson was the biggest beneficiary of that spending spree. The fifth-year defensive end received a $76 million contract including a $30 million signing bonus. That's a lot of money for a player who had just one good year until then, but Johnson has followed up last year with another strong season: he has notched 7.5 sacks so far this year and is a useful player in run defense.
At some point the Bucs will have to pass the ball and Donald Penn will matchup on Charles Johnson. Penn has had a very good year so far, shutting down some very good pass rushers, so he has the ability to stop Charles Johnson. Of course, whether he will be able to actually do that on Sunday is another issue entirely.
Legarrette Blount vs terrible tackling
The Carolina Panthers are horrible at stopping the run. The Bucs haven't looked any good in recent weeks, but the Panthers have had issues all season long. Like the Bucs they can't win in the trenches, and they can't tackle. If the Bucs want to win on Sunday, Blount will have to take advantage of that. Last week may have been Blount's best total game as a pro despite two fumbles (which I blame on the weather given the ridiculous number of fumbles that day). Blount ran behind his pads, with power, and did a great job finding the right holes to gash a Titans run defense that wasn't nearly as bad as this Carolina defense. Can he do it again?