Buccaneers game day is approaching, and it’s time for the PewterReport.com staff to offer up its weekly game predictions. Let us know what you think in the article comments section and add your prediction, too.
When: Sunday, November 15, 2020 Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. ET Location: Bank of America Stadium TV: FOX PLAY-BY-PLAY: Kevin Burkhardt ANALYST: Daryl Johnston SIDELINE: Pam Oliver RADIO: 98ROCK 97.9 FM PLAY-BY-PLAY: Gene Deckerhoff ANALYST: Dave Moore SIDLINE: T.J. Rives SPANISH RADIO: 96.1 FM PLAY-BY-PLAY: Carlos Bohorquez ANALYST: Martin Gramatica
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Scott Reynolds: Victorious Bucs Match Last Year’s Win Total
The Buccaneers are the better team and they will beat the Panthers and sweep their NFC South rival because they’ll win the battle in the trenches. Tampa Bay has the better pass rush and the better offensive line – I think left guard Ali Marpet gets through concussion protocol and will play in this game. I also believe cornerback Carlton Davis III will also shake off a knee injury and play, too.
The Panthers are better than their 3-6 record indicates and even though the Bucs won the first game in Week 2, 31-17, Tampa Bay scored a touchdown in the waning minutes of the game appear more lopsided than it really was. The Bucs raced out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Panthers pulled closer in the second half. Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey scored two touchdowns against the Bucs, but he won’t be available this week as he’s out with a shoulder injury. Power running back Mike Davis replaces McCaffrey, but he’s no slouch and will present a challenge. Still, Tampa Bay has more firepower and has something to prove after being embarrassed by New Orleans, 38-3, on Sunday Night Football.
If the Buccaneers have hopes of wining the division and securing a home playoff game, it starts on Sunday. Tampa Bay can’t afford to drop any divisional games, and still will need help from other teams to beat the Saints for that to be a possibility. But for now they need to approach each week as a one-game season. The Panthers don’t feel sorry for the Buccaneers getting blown out by the Saints last week, and may have learned a few things from watching that game tape.
Tampa Bay hopefully got the wake-up call needed last week in their loss. Press clippings, being the talk of the national shows and patting themselves on the back got they a 38-3 smack up side the head. If they got the message they should come away with a doubt-digit win on Sunday. The Buccaneers are head and shoulders better than the Panthers. I know Carolina has played some teams close in a few of its six losses, but the fact is it is 3-6 for a reason. On the other hand, Tampa Bay is 6-3 for a reason.
The game could be closer than fans might like through the first half, but you can bet Tom Brady will be fired up for redemption after last week and the Bucs offensive line should be as well. Tampa Bay’s defense is a heck of a lot better than we saw as last week and Todd Bowles will have defenders ready to go. At halftime it might be 21-14, but by the end of the fourth quarter it will be 33-17. The Buccaneers know this is a must-win game with the Rams and Chiefs upcoming. Oh yeah, Mike Evans will explode for 150 yards receiving. Bet on it.
Jon Ledyard: Can’t Pick The Panthers And Still Believe In Bucs
As ugly as the loss to the Saints was last week and as disjointed as the Bucs have looked on both sides of the ball for parts of this season, I can’t bring myself to pick against them this Sunday when they battle the 3-6 Panthers.
Yes, the Panthers are better than your average 3-6 football team. They’ve taken the Saints and Chiefs down to the wire over the past three weeks, and they gave the Bucs a run for their money back in Week 2. Carolina is a much better team in Week 10 than they were two months ago, with an efficient and explosive passing game and an opportunistic defense that has forced 12 turnovers. But Carolina can’t hold a candle to the Bucs talent, especially in the trenches and at the quarterback position, which has to matter more than anything else this Sunday.
This is a gut-check game for the Bucs. If they lose this game, they shouldn’t be considered a playoff team right now. If Tampa Bay can’t respond with a significant level of resiliency against an inferior opponent after an embarrassing beat-down on the national stage against the Saints, we’ll know they aren’t yet a team that is made of the right stuff. I still believe in this team, and I think they’ll get the job done on Sunday, but their level of desperation has to exceed that of a 3-6 Panthers team that is quite literally down to their last life after losing four straight.
Matt Matera: Bucs Take Out Their Frustrations On Panthers
Bucs linebacker Lavonte David gave us a window into how the locker room truly feels after saying that players were pissed following a huge, 38-3 loss to the Saints. Quite frankly, they should be pissed, because the Bucs haven’t played up to their standards over the last two weeks. Maybe getting pissed off is exactly what they need to happen, and I expect them to come firing out of the gates this week with this attitude.
Quarterback Tom Brady is not a guy that often loses twice in a row, either. If you look at the prior two losses for Tampa Bay, they went on to score 31 and 38 points, respectively, in double-digit wins the following weeks. And while Brady didn’t exactly light it up in either win, throwing for just a combined 383 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, but overall the entire team has played better as a unit.
The Bucs get some help with Christian McCaffrey out of the game, but Carolina has been successful with backup Mike Davis, and Tampa Bay has allowed over 100 yards rushing in the last two games. I’m also curious to see how Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting fare against Carolina’s receivers, as they’ve struggled recently. With that said, the Bucs will get back to blitzing and playing their style of football, leading to a convincing victory.
Heading into the season the Panthers were expected to be among the worst teams in the league with a new head coach, a new quarterback and the retirement of their long-time defensive leader Luke Kuechly. Despite sitting at 3-6 however, the Panthers have played some tough football this season. Losses to the Bears and Falcons hurt, but Carolina also has impressive wins over the Cardinals and the Chargers, and razor thin losses to the Chiefs and Saints.
The Panthers have a capable offense when in sync as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has been solid this year with a talented receiving corps in Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, but the team’s top weapon Christian McCaffrey has also been sidelined for much of the season, including this Sunday against Tampa Bay. Where Carolina will struggle the most against the Bucs will surely be their defense as they lost a leader at every level of the unit heading into this season. The Panthers watched Kuechly retire, defensive tackle Kawann Short hit the injured reserve and cornerback James Bradberry leave as a free agent to the Giants in 2020 and haven’t come close to replacing their impact. To this point in the season the Panthers have totaled just 10 sacks while allowing 246.8 passing yards per game and over 25 points per game to their opponents.
Carolina, despite over-performing at times this year, is right in the middle of a rebuild while the Bucs have assembled a ton of talent and shifted firmly into win-now mode. Despite their shockingly poor performance against the Saints in Week 9, I fully expect Tampa Bay to bounce back with a convincing win this week.