Welcome to week 13. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have four wins and they will be facing a one win team. This is set to be Bryce Young’s first matchup against his division rival to the south. Young’s season has been somewhere in between disappointing and concerning. The Panthers are on their second head coach of 2023 and their fourth since the beginning of 2022 (yikes). The Buccaneers have little right to look down on anybody having won just one single game, since their bye week. Todd Bowles’ seat is as hot as the sun and a loss this week against a team in total disarray, could be enough to set the team’s fan base ablaze.
All that and is true and yet this matchup may still be packing some playoff implications. The Bucs are just a game out of first, with tiebreakers likely to be relevant, come season’s end. Those tiebreakers and the last glimmers of feint optimism on the line this Sunday, when the Buccaneers welcome their Carolinian rivals into Raymond James Stadium. Here are some things that could, should, and will play out during the game—
This could be the get-right game Tampa Bay desperately needs.
The Panthers are having a terrible season. There is no world of NFL football that exists, in which, a loss to Carolina is acceptable. The Buccaneers are struggling, but the talent between the two teams is not comparable. Tampa Bay should win and they have the potential to win big. A return to their early-season form could get the ball rolling for a team that’s been stuck in the mud. Would dominating a divisional opponent, in the late portion of the year be enough for Tampa to unstick themselves and save their season? Could be.
The Buccaneers should be able to keep a lid on Carolina’s offense.
He may be the number one overall pick, but Bryce Young has had a putrid season. The Panthers’ rookie quarterback has just one game with multiple touchdown passes (three). In his three touchdown performance, against the Detroit Lions, he also threw two interceptions. Five weeks ago, Young registered his only game with a passer rating above a 100. On the season, he’s had just one other game where he totaled above a 90. With 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions on the season, Young’s year hasn’t been the one Carolina fans, the organization, and Young himself were hoping for. Tampa's defense may have injuries spreading like a stomach bug but there's no reason for Todd Bowles' group to be less than stellar.
This game will be FULL of retread optimism.
Three months ago, optimism was swirling around both of these organizations. The Carolina Panthers had a fresh start with a new highly-talented rookie quarterback. The Buccaneers started the season undefeated and surprised with an impressive win against their most bitter division rival. Quickly, that swirling September optimism was washed out, dried, and left by the side of the road, until now—
The Carolina Panthers have a new head coach. With change comes opportunity and a new chance for the 2023 Carolina Panthers to be what they were supposed to be. A win, or even a good showing will give merit to the franchise’s former optimism.
Tampa Bay fans can see a small window of opportunity, against the easiest opponent remaining on their schedule, in a spot where a divisional victory would be pivotal, a win will force Tampa Bay fans to hop in their cars and drive back to that spot on the road they previously ditched any and all optimistic notions and scoop some back up.
Do you agree with our list? No? What are some things you think could happen, should happen, and will happen this week?
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