Beatdown Bay. That’s my new proposed name for the Tampa Bay Bucs after the absolute whooping they were given by the New Orleans Saints in primetime last week. I did not expect the Bucs to come out that flat-footed, unprepared and overmatched. The game plan from the get-go was atrocious and the Bucs literally set a new NFL record by rushing the ball five times, that’s the least amount ever. It is baffling to me that a room led by Tom Brady, Bruce Arians, Tom Moore and (sort of) Byron Leftwich could be manhandled like it was against the Saints.
Bucs Good News
Here is the good news for the Bucs: they’re playing a team that they beat up in Week 2. The Carolina Panthers are certainly a better team than they were in that first matchup of the season but I don’t have much hope for them entering Week 10 against the Bucs. Teddy Bridgewater understands the offense much better and the Panthers have had three wide receivers emerge as stars. But they have lost four straight games, I give them breaks against the Saints and the Chiefs. They actually played Kansas City really well but it took a near perfect day from Teddy B and the return of Christian McCaffrey to keep it to a two-point loss.
The Panthers look to be without McCaffrey this week as early reports indicate that a hamstring injury that plagued him in the Chiefs game isn’t getting much better. The Panthers are 9 weeks in, they are 3-6 and behind the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South and they probably are realizing that a playoff shot is getting out of reach. Since 1990, four NFL teams have made the postseason after starting 3-6. So the Panthers have no real reason to rush back their star player from an injury that could easily get worse, they know that and I assume they will be smart enough not to push it.
Key Players to Watch
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Antoine Winfield Jr., Safety: Winfield Jr. has quickly emerged as the son of an NFL player to a budding star in the making for the Buccaneers. The rookie safety is the frontrunner for Defensive Rookie of the Year and is one of the highest graded safeties in the league. Quarterbacks aren’t targeting receivers when he is around and he’s top 20 in the league for passes allowed. With Robby Anderson, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel all having excellent seasons, Winfield Jr. will have a tall task on Sunday.
Carolina Panthers, Brian Burns, Defensive End: Tom Brady was sacked three times and hit nine times in the loss to the Saints and he looked uncomfortable. Burns, in his second year, is beginning to look like a legitimate star in the league. He leads the Panthers in sacks with six and racked up four tackles the last time he saw the Bucs. If Burns can get to Brady and be a force in the backfield, it could be another long day for Tampa.
The Bucs are getting 4.5 points on the road here, Carolina has lost four straight and I think the Bucs will play pissed and hungry.
Bucs 31 Panthers 24
By: Matt Lively CruelFan.com