It’s Week Two of the 2020 season and the Bucs host the Panthers in hopes of avoiding an 0-2 start. Not only would Tampa Bay be 0-2 on the season with a loss, but it would also be 0-2 in the division, which is not where you want to be this early in the year.
Tampa Bay got a huge, much-needed win on the road against the Panthers in Week Two of last year, so the idea is the same result will happen this time around Especially when you consider the status of both teams at this moment.
But this is the NFL. We know nothing is guaranteed. The Bucs must be Carolina-ready.
Let’s dive into this weeks game preview.
- All-time series record: The Panthers lead the series, 24-15. Things been somewhat even over the past few years, however, with the teams splitting the in-season series three of the last four seasons.
- Longest win streak: Carolina won six in a row from 2013-2016.
- Largest margin of victory: Tampa Bay was crushed, 48-16, back in 2011.
- 2020 offensive and defensive rankings: The Buccaneers currently field the league’s 25th-ranked offense (20th passing, 25th rushing) and the sixth-ranked defense (7th passing, 6th rushing). The Panthers are 10th in total offense (12th passing, 16th rushing) and 18th in total defense (16th passing, 19th rushing).
What To Watch For
- Tom Brady’s rebound: The Bucs’ new signal caller got off to a rough start in New Orleans, but has a great chance to bounce back this week.
- The Bucs’ running backs: Oakland’s backs racked up 206 total yards and three touchdowns on 37 touches (5.6 ypt) against the Panthers. Without Chris Godwin, you’d think that Tampa Bay will look to use their backs this week, as well.
- The trenches: Tampa Bay’s offensive line vs. the Panthers’ defensive line and vice-versa will likely determine this matchup. The absence of KK Short should bode well for the Bucs.
- Carolina’s defense vs. Tampa Bay’s offense: The Panthers’ defense is young, inexperienced, and in the process of learning a new system. Can the Bucs take advantage?
- Scotty Miller: He showed a lot last week against the Saints and should have a bigger role this week due to Godwin’s absence and Mike Evans’ lingering hamstring issue.
- QB Tom Brady: He really needs to bounce back from last week.
- RB Ronald Jones II: RoJo should be in for a big day based off how Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker performed against the Panthers.
- WR Scotty Miller: The reports about Miller’s development over the summer appear to be true. If Godwin doesn’t go, he will be a major part of the game plan.
- DT Vita Vea: The third-year defensive tackle owned the Panthers’ interior line —especially Matt Paradis— last year and was key to the Bucs’ pass rush in both meetings.
- OLB Shaq Barrett: He basically won last year’s Week 2 matchup and needs to have a big game after a disappointing opener.
- CB Carlton Davis III: It would be a major disappointment if Davis falls off after his excellent game against Michael Thomas. He will be matched up on D.J. Moore, who got the best of him in both meetings last year.
- QB Teddy Bridgewater: The veteran QB looked good in his debut and he will need to be even better if the Panthers want to win this week.
- RB Christian McCaffrey: It’s obvious the offense flows through him.
- WR D.J. Moore: He was solid against the Bucs in 2019, grabbing 16 receptions and 162 yards on 24 targets. The Bucs need to make sure he’s taken care of in this matchup.
- DL Derrick Brown: The rookie defensive tackle flashed a lot in Week One and will need to be contained if the Bucs want to win.
- DL/LB Brian Burns: The Panthers’ pass rush starts with Burns. Donovan Smith can’t have another game like he did last week.
- S Jeremy Chinn: You had to like what you saw from his NFL debut. The Panthers will move him all over the defense, so the Bucs need to make sure they keep tabs on him at all times.
- Alvin Kamara rushed for 16 yards on 12 carries (1.33 avg.) against the Bucs in Week 1, the lowest yards/carry average of his NFL career.
- The Bucs’ defense allowed 4.11 yards per play, which is currently second-best in the NFL behind the Philadelphia Eagles (3.69 ypp).
- Brady has two career regular season games with at least six passing touchdowns and needs one more such game to tie Peyton Manning (three) with the most such games in NFL history.
- TE 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.
- Brady has 92 career regular season games with at least 300 passing yards and needs one more such game to tie Peyton Manning (93) for the second-most such games in NFL history.
*Stats provided by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Communications Department
I’ve said all offseason long that I believe the Panthers will be a stiffer challenge than most people think, and that turned out to be true for the Oakland Raiders in Week One.
However, I’m not sure if that will be the case for the Bucs in Week Two.
Don’t get me wrong, there is defintely a chance at an upset, here. But if the Bucs are who they’re supposed to be —which is a playoff contender— then they’ll figure out a way to come out focused and ready to put down the Panthers.
If Tampa Bay plays its game and avoids the dumb mistakes from last week, then everything will be fine. Get ready for a nail-biter if the same Bucs show up from last week, though.
All in all, Tampa Bay will get to .500 on the season after this game.