The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) seek revenge this Sunday when they face the Carolina Panthers (6-5) at Raymond James Stadium.
On November third, the Panthers scored their season high in an 42-28 beat down on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium. Now they are trying to end a three game losing streak that started right after that victory against the Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers have gained a little momentum as quarterback Jameis Winston has been in a groove after returning from his three game benching. After almost rallying the Buccaneers from a large deficit versus the New York Giants, Winston lead the Bucs to a victory against the San Francisco 49ers. He went 29 of 38 for 312 yards with two touchdowns and he protected the football. He will need to continue playing at a high level against a tough Panthers defense for the Buccaneers to have shot at winning. Here are the key match-ups the Bucs need to win on Sunday.
Lavonte David vs Christian McCaffrey
The one thing that has not changed since the Bucs played up in Charlotte in week nine is the Panthers ability to run the football. Christian McCaffrey had 157 total yards in that game. He had 79 yards on the ground with two touchdowns and 78 receiving yards. He’s coming off an even more impressive feat last week with 237 total yards. McCaffrey had 125 yards rushing and 112 yards receiving with a touchdown both ways.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers star linebacker, Lavonte David, has missed the last two games with a MCL sprained in his right knee. He’s back on the practice field just in time for this star studded match up. His return should give a big boost of confidence to the Buccaneers defense and hopefully they find a way to contain McCaffrey.
Mike Evans vs James Bradberry
The Panthers James Bradberry had his best game of the season so far against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In that game he was tasked with following Mike Evans all over the field. The Bucs’ star receiver was held to only one catch for just 16 yards. That was the only game this season which he was held under 50 yards.
Mike Evans played that game with a banged up knee and never got in a rhythm. But now he’s coming off two big games in a row and ready for this rematch against Bradberry. Also, he has Winston back at the helm. He’ll definitely find ways to get the football to his top wide-out.
Jameis Winston vs the Panthers Defense
The most important match up the The Tampa Bay Buccaneers must win this week is the turnover battle. That battle starts and ends with the play of Jameis Winston. Winston is making a conscious effort to limit costly mistakes by taking less risky throws and checking it down more.
It’s vital that the Buccaneers offense gets off to a fast start to help prevent the Panthers relentless pass rush from pressuring Winston into mistakes. Carolina has given up 31 points on the first possessions of their games, which is the sixth-most. The home crowd and an early lead would be exactly what Winston will need to help execute and continue this maturation.
Rod Thurman is contributor for Full Press Coverage covering his beloved Buccaneers. Follow him on twitter @BucBoy for everything Bucs and anything football.