The 6-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Carolina to take on the 14-1 Panthers on Sunday afternoon. The Buccaneers lost their third game in a row last week 26-21 to the Chicago Bears. Carolina suffered its first defeat of the season last week to the Atlanta Falcons 20-13. For Carolina, this was their first regular season loss since November 30, 2014. Tampa Bay has lost 4 of their last 5 games and was eliminated from the playoffs weeks ago as the Panthers failed to earn home field advantage and Ron Rivera will not have the luxury of resting his players.
Tampa Bay turned the ball over 3 times last week and also had a punt blocked which the Bears returned for a touchdown. Jameis Winston finished with a quarterback rating of 56 as he completed 15 of 29 passes for 295 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. His Favorite target was Charles Sims who had 3 catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. He also had 4 rushes for 45 yards. Dough Martin led the team with 49 yards on 17 carries but had 2 crucial fumbles. The Second fumble came at the end of the 3rd quarter deep inside Buccaneer territory, which set up a Bears touchdown. Defensively, they did not force any turnovers and couldn’t stop the run as the Bears had 174 rushing yards on 39 carries. They only allowed Jay Cutler to throw for 156 yards and were able to sack him once for a loss of 3 yards. They also had 3 tackles for losses.
Cam Newton was held without a touchdown pass for only the second time this season and their 13 points scored was a season low. Newton finished with a quarterback rating of 39.2 as he completed 17 of 30 passes for 142 yards with no touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He did rush the ball 7 times for 46 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target was Greg Olsen who had 4 catches for 40 yards. They had success running the ball as they gained 155 yards on 20 carries. Cameron Artis-Payne led the team with 5 carries for 49 yards. Defensively, the recovered a Matt Ryan fumble and sacked him twice for a loss of 10 yards. They couldn’t stop Julio Jones who had 9 catches for 178 yards including the game winning 70- yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter. They did a good job stopping the run as the Falcons gained 77 yards on 30 carries.
Tampa Bay is 7-8 against the spread this season including 4-3 on the road. The Panthers are 10-5 against the spread this year including 5-2 at home. The Panthers are favored by double digits but have home field advantage and need this game to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. These two teams met in week 4 with the Buccaneers holding the Panthers to a season low 244 yards.
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