In Week 8, we will see the Carolina Panthers face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium at 1:00 PM ET. This matchup promises to be a great one as the Panthers would like to bounce back from losses against the Eagles and the Bears while the Bucs are on a three-game losing streak and are looking to break it in this tilt.
Both the Panthers and the Buccaneers have their own share of injuries. Key players are missing for both sides on offense and defense so it will be interesting to note which is the less depleted team.
The Panthers still have Greg Olsen on the IR list, while OT Ryan Kalil (neck) and RB Fozzy Whittaker (ankle) are all listed as out for the game. S Kurt Coleman (knee), TE Ed Dickson (ankle), K Graham Gano (flu) and FB Alex Armah (hamstring) are all considered questionable for the game.
Pro Bowler MLB Luke Kuechly has now cleared the concussion protocol after missing the last game, good news for Panther fans.
An interesting note is that Roberto Aguayo has just been signed to the practice squad and imagine the headlines if he makes the game-winning kick to beat the Buccaneers.
For the Bucs, CBs Brent Grimes (shoulder) and Robert McClain (concussion) are out together with S Josh Robinson (concussion). DE Ryan Russell (shoulder) and DT Chris Baker (ankle) are listed are questionable while Jameis Winston (shoulder) was limited in practice this week but should be good to go before Sunday.
The secondary problem will add more headaches to Tampa Bay as their defense is the worst in the league in terms of the passing game. It will be interesting to see what adjustments will be made.
Tampa’s O and D
The Buccaneers are a weird team to root for this season. They were poised to compete for the divisional title with getting RB Doug Martin back, WR DeSean Jackson in free agency, and drafting TE O. J. Howard, but they’re 2-4 at this point.
The passing attack is on fire, being first in the league in passing yards and attempts. They are also top five in passing TDs and Yards per pass. But the rest of the story for Tampa Bay is ugly. The run game is non-existent, being bottom three in rushing attempts and yards with only a 3.7 yards per run average.
Adding to that, their defense is horrible right now, being one of the worst in terms of points allowed. This will be good chance to turn things around as the Panthers offense is very turnover prone this season.
Scrutiny around Cam
It will be interesting to see how Cam Newton comes out as he has just sparked another controversy. After being accused of sexism in Week 5, he stormed out of a press conference when asked about his offense. And yes, his offense has problems. The run game has vanished with only a 3.4 yards per run stat line and has 10 interceptions in just seven games, good for 31st in the league.
We have seen Cam bounce back under pressure. Just look at the Detroit Lions game where he had 355 yards, three TDs, and a passer rating of 141.8. It will be interesting what version of Cam Newton shows up in this one.
Matchup to Watch: Vernon Hargreaves III vs Devin Funchess
With the Bucs’ defense out of whack, one of their healthy cornerbacks will have to face Cam Newton’s main target as of late. With WR1 Kelvin Benjamin serving as a decoy to defenses, Funchess is able to thrive with 52 targets, 346 yards and three TDs so far this season. Though Hargreaves has done nothing spectacular as of late, he will need to lead the struggling secondary with key omissions in this game.
Fantasy Tip: Panthers QB Cam Newton
Though wobbly the past two game weeks, Newton has a great chance to bounce back this game as Tampa Bay gives up the third most points allowed for a QB and with the Panthers playing on the road where they are 3-1 this season, it will be a great opportunity for him to get his mojo back.
Betting Tip: Panthers (+1)
Surprisingly, the bet makers have the Panthers as underdogs for this game. They should be the favorites, have a top five defense in the league, and are facing a bottom three defense allowing the game to open up for them. That’s free money for you.
Prediction: Panthers 24-18 Buccaneers
The game has a high possibility of being a shootout and we predict that will be the case. Jameis Winston and Cam Newton won’t miss the opportunity to beat each other out so get your popcorn ready.
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