TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 7: Tight end Greg Olsen #88 of the Carolina Panthers runs after a pass reception against outside linebacker Lavonte David #54 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images)
This is Tampa Bay’s final chance to finish the 2015 season with momentum and start the New Year off right with a win over the division rival Carolina Panthers.
For many players this is their opportunity to make a lasting impression and prove they belong with the 2016 Buccaneers. But above individual performance, Sunday’s game is about getting a big win.
After being upset 20-13 by the Falcons last week, Carolina is no longer playing for an undefeated season, though home-field advantage remains in their sights. Which means the Bucs will get the 14-1 team’s best, which is exactly what they were hoping for heading into the season finale.
The Panther’s won the first contest in Raymond James Stadium, as Jameis Winston’s five turnovers and former kicker Kyle Brindza’s three missed kicks paved the way for a 37-23 afternoon. Tampa Bay’s solid defensive effort – allowed Cam Newton just 124 yards on 11 of 22 completions – was overshadowed by offensive and special teams miscues and the inability to capitalize on splash-play opportunities (Lavonte David’s dropped INT at the goal line). In fact, the Week 4 matchup was Newton’s lowest production through the air this season.
But, much like Winston’s progressed in his own right, the Panther’s quarterback has been incredible in 2015 and looks well on his way to taking home MVP honors. With 3,544 yards passing and 626 on the ground, the dynamic Newton is looking to finish a career-year on a high note and put his team in prime position in the playoffs.
As for Tampa Bay, its season has taken a turn for the worst in the fourth quarter, but a victory this Sunday – the NFL’s biggest upset of the year – would certainly salvage some pride and finish a respectable five-game improvement from 2014. The difference between 6-10 with four straight losses and 7-9 with an impressive divisional win on the road is significant. The Buccaneers need the type of confidence that would come from a statement victory against a division rival; one they’ll eventually have to beat in order to enter the next stage as a football team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9) at Carolina Panthers (14-1)
Sunday, January 3, 2016, 4:25 p.m. ET
Bank of America Stadium (75,412)
Network Television: Fox (WTVT Local)
Play-By-Play: Dick Stockton Analyst: David Diehl Sideline: Kristina Pink
Bucs Radio: US 103.5, Flagship Station (103.5 FM, 620 AM & 95.3 FM)
Play-By-Play: Gene Deckerhoff Analyst: Dave Moore Sideline: T.J. Rives
Last Game: Tampa Bay Lost vs. Chicago, 26-21; Carolina Lost at Atlanta, 20-13
Pewter Report’s Predictions
Scott Reynolds: Panthers 34-17
Mark Cook: Panthers 31-19
Eric Horchy: Panthers 31-16
Zach Shapiro: Bucs 27-23
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, Newton’s stats have been great, against virtually the same “weak” teams the Bucs have faced.
I’m just hoping Winston doesn’t throw any interceptions; that would be a big boost for the team especially if he also threw 1-2 TD’s. Go Bucs!
Win and we get the moral victory over a division rival (and if we are to believe Lovie, some momentum too). Lose and we get a top-10 pick in the draft. I know this same issue comes up every year….I for one am pretty satisfied with how we lost (or won) the nobody wants to win bowl against the Aints last year…win that game and we’d be watching WINSTON leading the Titans right now….lose tomorrow and we add probably a top-2 DE in the draft, win the game and we’re looking at picking maybe 5-6 spots later….and drafting another Clemson DE!
And once again we are only looking at losing for draft purpose. Ridiculous!!! We need to play hard and beat Panthers to move forward or 2016 will be just another reply of 2105 with a tougher schedule. Go Buc’s. Show us something special today!!!!
I see it as losing now so as to win Superbowls…I couldn’t care less who won the last game last year, or this year (we seemed to create our own momentum going into this year despite losing to NO)….we didn’t make the playoffs in either year and so we couldn’t win the SuperBowl. Whatever helps us get closer to winning the next Super Bowl – that’s what I’m in favor of…not interested in moral victories, or so called momentum to move forward….I think drafting Bosa moves us forward, just like drafting WINSTON did. I accept that’s not everyone’s opinion, it’s just mine.
Well here we are once again readying ourselves for the final game of yet another irrelevant season. Win, or at least be competitive, and the team gives us some hope. Lose, or play so poorly that the Panthers begin resting their starters in the 3rd quarter, and even drdneast won’t be able to sugarcoat it. While some would have the Bucs intentionally forego victory to improve our Draft position, I prefer the much-needed mental uplifting that defeating, perhaps the best team in the NFL, would bring to the team, we fans, this community and jonnyg’s Cardinals. Heck, jonnyg might even recognize it as a win without an asterisk. This game will reveal much about the character and will to win of the defensive side of the roster. It says a lot when a 4th round Draft pick rookie can become the heart and soul.
The last game last year is the only time I wanted the Bucs to lose. That was for Winston. Nothing could be finer, then to be beating Carolina! Go Bucs!
There’s a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth going on around here and we, Buc fans, need to cheer up and look for the bright side. Now I’m no Pollyanna – I know the defense sucks and we left games on the table, but there are some things to feel good about. I don’t want to date myself, but there’s a song written by Johnny Mercer and later sung by a whole bunch of folks that say “Accentuate the Positives – Eliminate the negatives”. Now there’s some old guys that posted ahead of me so I know some of them remember this song. Lol.
Bout time we start doing some of that around here. We got some good building blocks to build a young team on. And who knows, with a decent free agency and another good draft, we might have something to be proud of around here. For starters, we have 3 Buc players on Bleacher Report’s NFL All-Rookie Team – not bad huh? Now you “ain’t it awful guys” git off my lawn and start singing the lyrics to Mercer’s song. Lol.
I just want my Bucs to go out today and win in style or lose trying hard – whatever – Go Bucs in 2016!
Sadly, I remember the song well macabee. It’s right there with The Little Engine That Could, High Hopes (sounds like a store in Colorado) about the ant and the rubber tree plant and my favorite Zipity Do Da. It’s a wonderful day in Tampa Bay.
hope for a blowout so we can get a top ten pick and maybe a late christmas gift of firing lovie there are no moral victories in pursuit of a super bowl, these team is going nowhere with lovie leading the team on sundays, keep the gm find a real dc and be gone with the the cover two scheme that the nfl has figured out
This season flew by. I’m hoping we beat the Panthers. Hate that team and Cam is an arrogant dork. Win or lose like to see: A game with penalties cleaned up. Martin get rushing title.
Winston end season strong and no bad decisions or int.’s. Evans have a good game and no drops and no crying to refs about calls. D line finish strong and get some pressure. I give up on secondary. Lol. Like to see what Tandy can do he flashed last week some. Go Bucs! 2016 is looking up.
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