Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) vs. Carolina Panthers (0-1)
Thursday, September 12, 8:20 p.m. ET
Bank of America Stadium (capacity: 73,778)
Charlotte, North Carolina
Television: NFL Network
This game is a matchup of two teams that need a win after opening-week losses. The Bucs were beaten by the 49ers and once again there was an erratic performance by quarterback Jameis Winston. The Panthers were done in by an uneven performance by their quarterback Cam Newton. Both teams showed signs of having the potential to be very good teams, but an 0-2 start could be a killer for either.
Buccaneers Defense vs. Panthers Offense
The Bucs defense showed promise in a week 1 loss to the 49ers and they are still a work in progress. The biggest problem for the Bucs defense will be slowing down Panthers do-everything running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey rushed for 1,098 yards and added 80 receptions on 867 yards last season last season. McCaffrey is devastating in open space and new Bucs coordinator Todd Bowles is still putting together the pieces on a defense that struggled in 2018. Quarterback Cam Newton can be erratic but he should have a big day against a suspect Buccaneers secondary. This looks like a bad matchup for Tampa Bay anyway you look at it on defense.
Panther Defense vs. Buccaneers Offense
Second-year running back Ronald Jones has shown explosiveness, rushing for 75 yards on 13 carries against the 49ers after looking like a second-round bust last season. Tight end O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate form an elite duo, and Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans should return to full strength after fighting through the flu last week. Emerging receiver Chris Godwin and running backs Peyton Barber and Dare Ogunbowale can also offer contributions when they get the chance. So while quarterback Jameis Winston has a ton of weapons, his shortcomings seem to be the biggest problem for Tampa in this game.
Prediction: The Panthers are a safe pick here. Take the Panthers and give the 5 points.
Panthers 31 Bucs 20