Coming off arguably their most disappointing loss of the last three seasons, a 20-18 stunner against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Buccaneers are looking to get the ship back on course and to move to 3-0 in the division as they take on the Carolina Panthers for the first time this season.
The Panthers lead the all time series 24-19 but the Bucs have won four straight and six of the last seven. The longest streak in the rivalry’s history is held by the Panthers who won seven straight from 2013-2016. All time, the Panthers are 12-10 at home but have lost three straight and four of the last six in their house.
Tom Brady, over the course of his career, is 6-3 against the Panthers, throwing for 2,379 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. Last season against the Panthers, Brady had 558 passing yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions as the Bucs outscored Carolina 73-23 in those two games.
The Panthers have had their share of issues this season. The Baker Mayfield trade hasn’t worked too well so far and he’s sidelined with an ankle injury. They made a late night trade with San Francisco on Thursday for Christian McCaffrey in exchange for four draft picks and just traded wide receiver Robbie Anderson to the Arizona Cardinals. Oh, and they fired their head coach Matt Rhule after he went 11-27 in just over two seasons.
McCaffrey had some success against the Bucs, rushing for 354 yards and five touchdowns along with 272 yards and two touchdowns on 31 receptions in his seven career games against Tampa Bay, but that dual threat for the Panthers is no longer there. Starting quarterback P.J. Walker has had one appearance against the Buccaneers where he went 2-of-4 passing for 50 yards and was sacked one time. As a starter, Walker is 3-8 with two touchdowns and eight interceptions and having been sacked fifteen times.
The Bucs will turn to Brady to get the pass game going against the NFL’s 17th ranked passing defense, allowing 223.5 passing yards a game and the NFL’s 24th ranked scoring defense, allowing 24.3 points per game. Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White are also in a position to find some success with the Panthers’ rush defense ranked 26th in the NFL, allowing 133.3 yards per game.
The Panthers are dead last in the NFL in yards per game on offense - 260 - and 28th in the NFL in scoring, averaging 17.2 points per game.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Buccaneers are eleven point road favorites against the Panthers with an over/under of 39.5. The Bucs have covered the spread in six of their last seven against the Panthers while their last twelve games against NFC opponents have hit the under.
The Bucs and Panthers kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET in Bank of America Stadium this Sunday. The game will be broadcast on FOX with Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, and Shannon Spake on the call.