The Buccaneers will get another crack at the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in an attempt to avenge a 31-13 defeat earlier this year to their NFC South division rival Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers embarrassed the Buccaneers in a nationally televised contest back on October 24, as Carolina quarterback Cam Newton threw for two scored and added one more on the ground. Will the second time be a charm for the Buccaneers who swept the series against the Panthers in 2012?
Each week PewterReport.com comes up with five keys that would help the Buccaneers achieve victory in their upcoming game.
1. Keep Cam CorralledFor Tampa Bay to have any chance of winning their fourth game in a row, they will need to keep Panthers QB Cam Newton in check. While Newton has matured and doesn’t just take off and run at the sign of trouble as he did often in his rookie season, he is still elusive, and the Buccaneers need to stay disciplined in their rush lanes. Last month in the Panthers win at Raymond James Stadium, Newton ran for 50 yards after breaking containment when some of Tampa Bay’s defensive linemen allowed Newton to get outside of the pocket.
Some think the best way to neutralize Newton is to keep him strictly in the pocket, and force him to make accurate down field throws. The one thing the Bucs can’t do, is, stunt themselves right out of containment.
2. Get The Rainey Train Back On TrackAfter a breakout game against the Falcons two weeks ago, Tampa Bay’s Bobby Rainey found little room to run last Sunday in Detroit. The Lions held the Bucs’ fourth starting running back on the season to just 35 yards on 18 carries (1.9 avg.).
Rainey doesn’t necessarily have to repeat his 163-yard effort that he had against the Falcons, but if he averages less than two yards per carry on Sunday in Carolina the odds of Tampa Bay coming home with a win is extremely slim.
The Bucs offensive line needs to find ways to create a few seams, and at the very least make it second-and-8 instead of second-and-12, a place that they found themselves in often in Detroit.
3. Stake Out SmithThe probability of Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis playing on Sunday is 50-50 at best. And while the Bucs were able to slow down Lions megastar Calvin Johnson without Revis in the second half after the star DB left with a groin injury, it still had the feel of trying to shoot a Lion with a dart gun. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, the darts were on target often, and the Lions suffered enough self-inflicted wounds that the Bucs were able to come away with the win.
If Revis doesn’t play – and even if he does for that matter – keeping Steve Smith in check will go a long way in beating the Panthers. Tampa Bay did an excellent job last month, holding Smith to 42 yards on four receptions, but that was with Revis matched up with Smith. Can Johnthan Banks, Leonard Johnson, or Danny Gorrer have the same results? That is doubtful, so the Bucs will most likely offer safety help the majority of Sunday’s matchup.
Ted Ginn, Greg Olson and Brandon Lafell are all also excellent receiving threats for Carolina, but Smith is the engine that makes the Panthers offense hum.
4. Don’t Settle For Three’sRian Lindell drew the ire of many Bucs fans last week when he missed two field goals that would have put the game away for the most part last Sunday in Detroit. The Buccaneers need to make Lindell non-existent on Sunday, except for extra points. That means the team is scoring touchdowns and not settling for field goals. And while three points is better than none, it is highly doubtful the Panthers commit five turnovers like the Lions did a week ago, and the Buccaneers may need to score a lot of points to win.
Head coach Greg Schiano told the media on Friday his confidence in Lindell hasn’t wavered, but has Lindell’s confidence in himself begun to wane? Score touchdowns and forget about field goals, and Tampa Bay could get their fourth win in row.
5. Element Of SurpriseWhen the Buccaneers were 0-7, and with little to lose, the playbook was opened up all the way to the back pages where the trick plays are located. Jump passes, surprise onside kicks, fake punts – the Bucs have pulled out a number of razzle dazzle plays so far this season. And while the success rate of those types of plays isn’t usually very good, Tampa Bay has been excellent in converting the “trickeration” concepts for the most part this season.
In order to beat a team on the road in the midst of a seven-game winning streak, it may be time to even draw a few up in the dirt on the fly. A fake field goal, a flea flicker or even a halfback pass may be needed to catch the Panthers off guard and get the Bucs in the end zone and a joyous return flight back to Tampa Bay.
PewterReport.com PredictionsMark Cook – Panthers 24, Buccaneers 23Scott Reynolds – Bucs 26, Panthers 24
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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