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Buccaneers-Panthers preview: One play could make the difference

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The Bucs have come close to winning recent games.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Carolina Panthers and get their first win in nearly two months? We’ll find out today. But before we do, we have to preview the game.

Reviewing the Panthers’ last four games:

Car 35, NYJ 27 W

Car 21, NO 31 L

Min 24, Car 31 W

GB 24, Car 31 W

Points per game for the past four games: 29.5 points

Points per game against for the past four games: 26.5 points

The Panthers are scoring more and allowing more points in these past four games than their overall record suggests. Below, the Panthers have the 11th best points allowed average for a defense, but they are allowing more than 6 points per game more for the past four games. The Panthers’ offense put up 31 points on the Vikings!

Panthers Defense

Pass Advantage: Bucs

Rush Advantage: Panthers

Points Advantage: Panthers

The Panthers are actually giving up more points than their season average. This will be an added bonus for the offense to hopefully take advantage of the recent trend. Talking about recent trends, Winston may have finally had an epiphany in his last game. Could that game be the turning point in his career?

Game plan: Same plan as always, slow the game down and limit the Panthers from being on the field. Hopefully, this team we can score more than three points.

Bucs Defense

Pass Advantage: Panthers

Rush Advantage: Panthers

Points Advantage: Panthers

The last time the Bucs defense met the Panthers, they held the Panthers to 17 points. Since then, the Panthers look to have been on a scoring spree. In their last four games, they are nearly putting up 30 points a game! To add insult to injury, the Bucs will probably be missing starting safety Justin Evans and starting cornerback Ryan Smith for the game.

A scary identification is the Panthers put up 31 points on the Vikings defense. That is the most points the Vikings have allowed all season. Carolina did that behind a strong run game, a total of 216 yards rushing for an average of 6.0 yards per game.

Can the Bucs stop that run game like they did in their first meeting? If not, rinse and repeat Monday Night’s performance.

Conclusion

The Bucs are in a four game losing streak. They have not been blown out of any of those games. In the last three games, turnovers have cost the games that could have been won. That is how close the Bucs were to being 7 – 7. One play per game for the last three games could have changed the outcome drastically.

A rash of injuries has ravaged this season. On the offensive line, there remain only two starters. At center, the Bucs are on their third starter due to injuries. Evan Smith has gone from left guard to center to right guard within a few games. There are injuries across the board, and I wanted to highlight the hit to the offensive line.

Tampa is playing for pride and has been all season long. Although they have been tattered, bruised, or put on injured reserve, the Bucs keep on fighting. One play in a few, close losing games could have had this team on a winning record, but injuries hit early and often, since the first game of the Bucs’ season. Ravaged with injuries, the Bucs will valiantly look upon another playoff bound opponent and slash onward.