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Jameis Winston gets his first division challenge of the year

Can the Bucs quarterback out-duel Cam Newton?

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Carolina Panthers today. It’s the Bucs’ first division game and Jameis Winston’s first chance to show that he’s the best quarterback in the division in a direct battle. Or at least the best quarterback not named Drew Brees.

Cam Newton has been having a down year: more interceptions than touchdowns, oddly conservative, and taking far too many sacks. Meanwhile, Jameis Winston is having the best season of his career, and is coming off a terrific game against the stout Buffalo Bills defense.

But Winston will need to be on his A-game to beat Newton, today. Mostly because while Winston will face the solid Panthers defense, Newton will face a horrific Bucs defense that’s missing its top two cornerbacks. That’s a recipe for disaster (for the Bucs) and ecstacy (for the Panthers).

Great quarterbacks overcome great defenses, though, and if Winston can put up a quality performance today, he’ll truly have arrived as a top 10 NFL quarterback.