Pip pip cheerio! In this week’s preview we take a look at the matchup that is taking place in another nation this week. The Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers go across the pond to face each other in London, England. As usual, the NFL tries to have a few games a year that are played in a different part of the world. The London series of games kicked off last week where the Bears took on the Oakland Raiders. And the Panthers versus the Bucs is the second matchup of four this year. Let’s take a look at some keys to the game.
The Carolina Panthers come into this game off of a three game win streak, including two hard fought road wins, and a close call at home against Jacksonville. This week a new test is brought to their doorstep as they have to play on a neutral field,. It will definitely be a new environment for a lot of the players on both sides of the ball. As far as the betting odds go, this game is practically dead even. Carolina, as of Thursday, is only a 2.5 point favorite over the Bucs. It seems that people in Vegas are jumping on Carolina’s wagon and are predicting their win streak to continue.
Get the run game
In order for Carolina to bump the win streak up to four, they are first going to have to put up with Tampa’s run defense. The last time these two teams faced off in Week 2 it wasn’t pretty. McCaffrey was stifled and Cam looked horrendous. But that was week two. Since that game running back Christian McCaffrey has been on an absolute tear.
This season he has accounted for 866 all purpose yards; almost six hundred yards rushing, and almost three hundred from receiving. Remind you this is only week six, we still have over ten weeks of regular season play to go. Getting McCaffrey going is going to be huge for Carolina in order to succeed this game, but it won’t be easy. The Bucs have the third best run defense in the nation, and they showed it the last time these two teams met, holding McCaffrey to around two yards a carry.
Can Tampa contain Carolina pass rush?
Tampa’s offensive line is pretty banged up going into this week. Three of their offensive lineman are suffering injuries that could possibly keep them out of the game. Tampa’s better linemen, Alex Cappa, suffered a broken arm last week and he has not participated in practice all week. Tackle Demar Dotson has been dealing with a hamstring injury and he has not participated in practice all week, and Guard Zach Bailey has been limited in practice with a foot injury.
The question here is can Tampa keep Jameis Winston upright in this game. The Panthers have proven that their pass rush is one of the best in the nation, seeing as they rank near the top in total sacks on the season. In order for Tampa to succeed they will need to find a way to keep the pass rush of the Panthers at bay.
The absence of Kawann
Panther fans were met with some unfortunate news as within the week it was announced that starting DT Kawann Short was placed on the IR for the rest of the season. Short is one of the key cogs that has helped Carolina become one of the better run defenses in the league. His presence will be missed and it has fans concerned.
His absence leaves Dontari Poe and the disappointing draft pick from several years ago, Vernon Butler. Both of these guys have been considered average in their time in the league, so it will be important to see if they can handle the shoes they have to fill. As of last week, Poe and Butler seemed to do a pretty good job clogging up the middle. Although it wasn’t perfect, it was an improvement over the past.
Tampa’s secondary last week was bad to say the least. They
gave up 314 yards and four touchdowns to the Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater.
Not Tom Brady, not Carson Wentz, but Teddy Bridgewater. Tampa’s coach Bruce
Arians was not pleased after their performance, and he said that the secondary
was soft. So, this looks like a prime opportunity for Carolina to pounce. Kyle Allen so far this season has been a
smart passer for Carolina and he has yet to throw an interception in three
games. Sunday morning looks like a great chance for him to take advantage of
weak coverage, and shred the defense to pieces. For the Bucs, they have to have
good pass coverage if they want a chance to win this game.
Carolina -2.5, -130
Tampa +2.5, +120
Ultimately this is a toss up game. Both teams are built
pretty evenly, and both have had some injury woes. I believe that Carolina will
take this one. Their defense is stout, their run game is strong, and Kyle Allen
has been performing great. I believe that ultimately the injuries to Tampa’s
offensive line will hurt them and make life difficult for them in this game. I’m
taking Carolina in this one to win, cover the spread, and I am taking the under
here. This will be a defensive battle, so I am expecting it to be a low scoring
So, on Sunday morning rise and shine. Get your cup of coffee,
your breakfast, and enjoy the early bird special!