The 6-9 Panthers travel to Tampa Bay to take on the 8-7 Buccaneers in this week 17 matchup. While the Panthers are eliminated from the playoffs, The Buccaneers need to win this game and get help from several teams to sneak into a wild card spot. Both teams suffered losses last week with the Panthers falling 33-16 to the Atlanta Falcons which snapped a 2 game win streak. Even with a win, Carolina will finish in last place in the NFC South a year after reaching the Super Bowl. Tampa Bay lost for the second week in a row 31-24 to the New Orleans Saints on the road. Running Back Doug Martin did not play and has been sent to rehabilitation facility for violating the league’s drug policy and is done for the season. A win this week will keep their playoff hopes alive and ensure they finish the season with a winning record after finishing 6-10 last year.
Cam Newton struggled last week finishing with a quarterback rating of 20.9. He completed 18 of 43 passes for 198 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. He was also sacked twice for a loss of 15 yards. His favorite target Greg Olsen who had 6 catches for 59 yards. Kelvin Benjamin also had a nice game with 63 yards and a touchdown on 4 receptions. They had success running the ball gaining 119 yards on 23 carries which is an average of 5.2 yards per rush. Jonathan Stewart led the team with 50 yards on 11 carries. Defensively, they were not able to force a turnover but did sack Matt Ryan four times for a loss of 21 yards. They also struggled against the run as Atlanta had 152 yards on just 24 carries which is an average of 6.3 yards per rush.
Jameis Winston had a mixed day last week finishing with a passer rating of 85.1. He completed 23 of 35 passes for 277 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. His favorite target was Mike Evans who had 97 yards and a touchdown on 7 catches. They finished with 89 rushing yards on 21 carries with Jacquizz Rodgers leading the team with 63 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Defensively, they did not force a turnover and sacked Drew Brees twice for a loss of 5 yards. They allowed the Saints to gain 123 rushing yards on 31 carries which is an average of 4 yards per run.
Carolina has gone 5-9-1 against the spread this season including 3-3-1 on the road. Tampa Bay has gone 7-8 against the spread this season including 2-5 at home. The Buccaneers are favored by 6 points in this game and will have home field advantage. They also still have hope for the playoffs but the loss of Martin will hurt the running game. These two teams last met in week 5 with the Buccaneers winning on the road 17-14.
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