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Predictions for Panthers vs. Buccaneers

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Carolina Panthers today, in a bid to get back in the division race -- or to see the deficit behind the division leader become insurmountable. Either way, this will be a crucial game for Tampa Bay.

On one side, the Bucs should be able to exploit Kuechly's and Charles Johnson's absence by running the football, something they haven't tried to do consistently so far this year, even though the results have been decent when they've stuck with the ground game. If they can keep Doug Martin going to extend drives in between some deeper throws by Jameis Winston, the Bucs have a decent chance of winning.

The biggest issue will be consistently stopping Cam Newton and company. The Panthers have managed to manufacture a run game around Newton, who's become a more consistent passer this year as well. Still, his only reliable target is Greg Olsen, making their offense very one-dimensional. That hasn't stopped them from winning the first three games this season, though.

I'm predicting a close loss for the Bucs -- they're going up against a worse team, though the injuries and the home crowd may give them the advantage. In the end, though, I think the Bucs lose 19-17.

Give us your predictions below!