While many fans stay focused on the World Series matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox, the NFL will start week 8 on Thursday with a matchup between Carolina and Tampa Bay. Here is a rundown of what we expect to see in that game.
The Carolina Panthers have not been above .500 in five consecutive seasons. No matter the league or team, that number seems almost unbelievable, but for a team that has had as many woes as the Panthers have, it shouldn’t be too big of a surprise. Cam Newton has led this team for the last two-and-a-half seasons, but it looks like now he is finally starting to get the feel of things. In the last two weeks, Newton has helped the Panthers outscore their opponents 65-25, and they’ll look to increase that margin with the winless Buccaneers coming to town.
While the Panthers are looking to remain in the conversation in the NFC South, the Buccaneers are completely out of it, and we are not even half way through the season. For the second time in the last five years, the Bucs are on the verge of starting a season 0-7. They have been outscored by their opponents 132-87 all year, which is likely a case of identity crisis and not having any real threats on either side of the ball. When the season started, Josh Freeman and Doug Martin were supposed to head a dangerous offense that showed improvements from last year. But instead Freeman was traded four games into the season and Martin has had his own struggles getting the ball rolling and will likely miss Thursdays game with a shoulder injury.
Carolina has looked good on defense this year. They have allowed the fourth least amount of rushing yards per game and fifth least amount of passing yards per contest. This doesn’t look good for a Tampa team that has minimal options or ideas of where to go when the time comes. Mike Glennon will start his fourth straight game for the Buccaneers, but it’s quite amazing that there aren’t any other available quarterbacks instead of a guy who was unheard of just a few weeks ago.
You have to consider that winless teams come out every week with a chip on their shoulder to end the streak. However, with as few options that Tampa Bay has, we don’t see this as the chance they have to end their slide. The Panthers look to be hitting their own personal stride at this point in the season, and would like to keep it going during this light stretch of mediocre teams. Although the Panthers have done wilder things in the past when we least expected it, count on them to walk out of Raymond James Stadium on Thursday with the win.
Final Score 31-17 Carolina