Damn, that was fast.
We have already arrived at game day for Week 2. The Bucs travel to Charlotte to take on the Panthers in a big divisional matchup. Both teams are 0-1 after losing their season openers and both teams are looking to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start.
All-time series record: The Panthers lead, 23-14. The Bucs are 7-11 at home and 7-12 on the road when playing against their division rival. Andrew Adams picked off Cam Newton three times in the last meeting, which led to a 24-17 win for Tampa Bay.
Playoff history: These two teams have never met in the postseason.
Longest win streak: The Panthers won six games from 2013-2015.
Largest victory: A 48-16 win over Tampa Bay currently stands as the largest margin of victory in this series.
What To Watch For
- Adversity: How does this team bounce back after a tough loss under Arians?
- The return of #93: Gerald McCoy will face off against his former team. Will he be able to take advantage of a mediocre offensive line?
- Curtis Samuel: He tore the Bucs up in the 2018 matchup in Charlotte.
- Separation: The receivers couldn’t create any space against the 9ers’ secondary last week.
- Game of Jones: Ronald Jones II looked really good last week. Can he repeat it again against a tough Carolina front?
QB Jameis Winston: A good bounce-back performance is needed in a big way.
RB Ronald Jones II: Expect Tampa Bay’s second-year back to see a lot of action on Thursday night.
WR Mike Evans: The Bucs’ ground game will be a focal point, which should open up some throwing lanes for Evans and co.
DE Ndamukong Suh: The front seven will be crucial to stopping McCaffrey
DT Vita Vea: See above.
S Jordan Whitehead: His downhill style should be a perfect match for this game.
QB Cam Newton: He looks good after battling a shoulder injury last year.
RB Christian McCaffrey: This one is obvious. Do I need to explain?
WR Curtis Samuel: After an excellent offseason, Samuel is ready for a big year. Don’t forget the last time Tampa Bay came to Charlotte.
DL Kawann Short: One of the best and most underrated defensive linemen in the league.
LB Luke Kuechly: Everyone knows what Kuechly can do. Dude is a monster.
S Eric Reid: All he did was come in off the street last year and become a pivotal piece to the Panthers’ defense. So far, nothing has changed.
- Jameis Winston is now the franchise leader in passing yards with 14,822 over his first five seasons. He broke the record last week against the San Francisco 49ers.
- Cameron Brate has three career games with multiple touchdown receptions. He needs one more to tie Jimmie Giles for the most ever such games by a Buccaneers tight end.
- Hargreaves returned an interception returned for a touchdown against San Francisco. With an interception returned for a touchdown at Carolina, he will join Derrick Brooks (9/15/02 at BAL-9/23/02 vs. STL) and Cedric Brown (11/18/81 vs. DEN-11/22/81 vs. GB) as the only players in Buccaneers history to post an interception returned for a touchdown in consecutive games.
- Mike Evans has recorded 397 career receptions and needs 34 more to pass James Wilder (430 from 1981-89) for the most receptions in franchise history.
*Stats provided by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Communications Department
Outside of McCaffrey and Jones, both offenses struggled to find their footing last week. That could easily happen again on Thursday night, considering the fact that it’s a short week and also a rivalry game. Throw in what looks to be an improved Tampa Bay defense and all of a sudden, this game may get thirsty for points.
The front seven for each team will dictate how this game goes. Both teams have brand new defenses that they’ll be trotting out, so it’ll be interesting to see how much said defenses dictate the game early on. The Panthers allowed three sacks last week, just like the Bucs, so there’s room for plays to be made in terms of sacks.
Carolina’s passing game appears to be in the works, but so does the Bucs’ air attack. McCaffrey will be on the field for basically every snap. The Bucs will have to be aggressive, but disciplined on defense due to offensive packages that Carolina likes to run.
If Tampa Bay can shut down McCaffrey and force Newton to throw a lot, then there’s a very good shot the team can reach the 1-1 mark. If the Panthers can force Winston into his erratic style of play, then there’s a good chance they win the game.
No matter the result, it’ll be fun to watch a division game under the lights in primetime.