The Buccaneers and Panthers have already met once this season. In a week two Thursday night football game the Buccaneers bested the Panthers 20-14. Quite a bit has changed since week two. When these teams last met, they were both searching for their first win of the season. Now the Buccaneers are 2-3 and the Panthers are 3-2.
The Buccaneers are now into the brutal stretch of seven weeks without a game in Tampa and are sitting at 2-3. The Panthers have won three in a row after starting 0-2, winning three in a row with their back up quarterback. Cam Newton’s last game was against Tampa where he struggled to connect with his receivers. Kyle Allen has proven to a capable starter leading the Panthers to three straight wins. While this is considered a home game for Tampa, it’s a London game, the Buccaneers first trip across the pond since 2011.
Kyle Allen has been the Panthers’ starter for three weeks now and so far hasn’t lost a game. While Kyle Allen isn’t as dynamic as Cam Newton, he is more effective than an injured Cam Newton who played the first two games. Allen’s numbers aren’t anything special with only five touchdowns in three games. Most important about his time as the starting quarterback is he has yet to throw an interception. In the first match up between these two teams Cam Newton missed on a few open receivers, obviously helping the Buccaneers defense. If Allen can be more consistent than Newton it could spell trouble for the Buccaneers’ defense.
The Buccaneers defense
The Buccaneers defense has done a great job stopping the running game this year. The Buccaneers are ranked the second best run defense and were able to keep Christian McCaffrey in check in their first meeting. The real struggle comes with the Buccaneers secondary. Tampa Bay ranks dead last in passing defense. Through five weeks the secondary has proved to be a real liability. Heading into Sunday’s game the biggest question is will the Buccaneers be able to slow down McCaffrey and the Panthers passing attack with a healthy quarterback.
Will the real O.J Howard Please Stand up
The Buccaneers’ offense seemed to finally click in game 3 against the Giants. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have both had huge games, Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber have also been rushing very effectively. There is, however, one offensive weapon who has yet to make an impact. That player is of course O.J Howard. So far this season Howard has only 11 receptions for 141 yards and no touchdowns. Howard has yet to find his place in the new coaching staff’s offense. Could this finally be the week O.J Howard comes to life?
The Injured Offensive Line
Last week the Buccaneers offensive line was dominated by New Orleans. Adding injury to insult Tampa will be down two out of their starting five offensive lineman. Alex Cappa and Demar Dotson will both miss the week six showdown in London. Without the starting right guard and right tackle on the line it will be tough sledding for Jameis Winston against the Panthers stout defensive line. Winston who has a tendency to hold the ball a little too long could be in for a long Sunday afternoon in London.
Next week Tampa Bay will have a bye week.
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