Each week you can find 4 Match-ups to Watch in the Fab 4 section of my SR’s Fab 5 columns. Here is an advanced look at Tampa Bay’s big rematch against the Panthers in Carolina. The Bucs are 6-3 while the Panthers are 3-6, but playing better than their record would indicate. Tampa Bay can’t afford to lose this game and fall behind in the NFC South with a 1-3 record.
Bucs CB Carlton Davis III vs. Panthers WR Robby Anderson
Davis is playing at a Pro Bowl level this year and is tied for the league lead with four interceptions, including one against Carolina in Week 2. Through the first nine games, Anderson has recorded more yards against Davis than any other receiver has. In a 31-17 loss to Tampa Bay in Week 2, Anderson had nine catches for 109 yards (12.1 avg.), including three catches for 73 yards against Davis. Anderson’s 39-yard catch against Davis was the longest reception Davis has surrendered all year.
Bucs CB Carlton Davis III – Photo by: USA Today
Davis has a 73.3 overall grade and a 71.4 coverage grade this season from PFF, and did a reasonably good job against Anderson and Carolina. As previously stated, Davis only allowed three catches for 73 yards all day – all of which came from Anderson – and recorded an interception against Teddy Bridgewater. Anderson, who has a 78.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, has been held in check over the last two weeks with five catches for 48 yards against Atlanta and nine catches for 63 yards against Kansas City. Davis will need to continue that trend and shut down Anderson, as he did before when he held the Panthers’ best receiving option to a 64 grade in Week 2. ADVANTAGE: Davis
Bucs LT Donovan Smith vs. Panthers EDGE Brian Burns
Carolina has really struggled to get the quarterback this year and has just nine sacks on the year. Burns leads the way with three sacks nine QB hits and 19 hurries while earning an 85 overall grade from PFF and a 90.5 pass rush grade in 2020. Burns can play either side, but should see more action at right end going against Smith in the Bucs vs. Panthers rematch. In Week 2, Burns had an 81.2 PFF grade and a 78.9 pass rush grade with four tackles and two hurries.
Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Smith really struggled against New Orleans last week allowing a sack and six quarterback pressures. He didn’t play that great against Carolina in Week 2, either, giving up a pressure and a penalty while earning a 58.1 Week 2 grade from PFF and a 54.2 pass protection grade against Carolina. For the season, Smith has a 69.5 overall PFF grade and a 67.8 pass protection grade. He’ll need to play much better than he did on Sunday and closer to his season average against Burns, who is quick and agile and can hit Smith with a speed rush outside and a stutter step move inside. ADVANTAGE: Burns
Bucs WR Mike Evans vs. Panthers CB Donte Jackson
Evans got the best of Jackson in Week 2, catching three passes for 36 yards and a key touchdown against him in coverage. Since the departure of James Bradberry to New York in free agency, Jackson has been elevated to the top cornerback in Carolina, but his level of play hasn’t been anywhere close to that of Bradberry’s. Jackson had a 62.3 PFF overall grade and coverage grade in Week 2, and did come away with an interception in zone coverage. Still, he’ll need to play better against Evans and keep him out of the end zone if the Panthers are going to prevail in the rematch.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Evans totaled 104 yards and one touchdown on seven catches against Carolina. He had a 79.3 PFF grade in Week 2, which was his highest of the year. Evans has had a rough year from a statistical standpoint and is on pace to fall short of 800 yards receiving. He’s better than Jackson and should dominate this match-up. It’s been over a month since Evans has had a 100-yard game and he should hit the century mark in Carolina. ADVANTAGE: Evans
Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett vs. Panthers RT Taylor Moton
Moton had a decent game against Barrett in Week 2, giving up a season-high three hurries and earning a 66.6 overall grade from PFF, but not surrendering a sack. Moton has an overall grade of 77.8 from PFF, including a 74.9 pass block grade and a 73.3 run block grade. The key for Moton and Carolina’s offense will be to remain balanced with some power running from Mike Davis, who will start in place of Christian McCaffrey, and stay out of third-and-long situations.
Barrett has had a rough year from a sack production standpoint after notching an NFL-high 19.5 sacks last year he has just four this year, which is tied with Ndamukong Suh for third on the team. He had one last week against New Orleans, but didn’t record one against Moton in Week 2 versus Carolina. Barrett grades out well this year with a 70.7 overall grade from PFF, including a 77.4 pass rush grade. Barrett actually had his lowest grade of the year in Week 2 against Moton with a 47.8 overall grade from PFF and 65.3 pass rush grade while notching five tackles, three hurries and one penalty. Barrett needs to get back to his Pro Bowl form quickly and win a few more one-on-ones against Moton in Carolina. ADVANTAGE: Moton
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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