Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: NFC South Showdown On Thursday Night Football
The Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers (Photo: Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: NFC South Showdown On Thursday Night Football

With both teams losing on the opening week of the new season, the NFC South clash between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is set to be a huge game.

andrewmcdonnell
Andrew McDonnell

The Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet in an NFC South showdown at the Bank of America Stadium on the first Thursday Night Football game of the year. 

With the eyes of the national on this encounter, both sides will be eager to get the first win of the season on board, after both were beaten in their Week 1 matches. 

In the same fixture last season, it was a high-scoring affair, with the Panthers winning 42-28 to move to 6-2 on the season before they went on a baron seven-game losing streak. 

The Bucs won the second meeting of the season, Jameis Winston threw two touchdown passes in the 24-17 win at Raymond James Stadium.

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McCaffrey The Danger Man For Panthers 

If last week’s season-opener is anything to go by, running-back Christian McCaffrey could be on for another 1,000-yard season with the Panthers. 

Carolina were also at home last week as their season began with a narrow 30-27 loss against the Los Angeles Rams, who reached the Super Bowl last season. 

There were plenty of positives to take from the game last Sunday, with McCaffrey having 19 carries for 128-yards and a pair of touchdowns. The running-back was also a threat as a receiver too, hauling in 10 receptions for 81-yards. 

If quarterback Cam Newton can get himself back fit again, the Panthers will be hopeful that he can get back to the form he had back in the 2015 season.

There's a real chance this Panthers team can have a good run in 2019, especially with weapons like Newton and McCaffrey in the team.

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Winston Must Avoid Turnovers 

Bruce Arians’ first game as the Bucs Head Coach didn’t go as planned as his reign in Tampa Bay began with a 31-17 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers

Former Head Coach Dirk Koetter was fired after a second-successive season finishing bottom of the division. The NFC South has always been one of the strongest divisions in the NFL, but the Bucs certainly weren’t happy with a 5-11 finish. 

Arians leads his side on the road for the first time on Thursday night and they face a tough test against a team they know all too well. 

Winston threw three interceptions against the Rams last week and for the Bucs to stand a chance against any team in the NFL, let alone the Panthers, this can’t be the case. 

The quarterback has weapons on the outside, with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin posing real threats. Meanwhile, the Bucs will also need to find a way of running the ball through Peyton Barber and Roland Jones

Prediction 

If the Panthers are wanting to make it back to the Playoffs this year, this is the sort of game that they need to be winning. McCaffrey will have a big game, perhaps he’ll get close to the 200 total yards he scored against the Rams last week. 

From what I saw of the Bucs game last week, Winston looks a shadow of the player he was a couple of years back and those interceptions were certainly avoidable. If the Bucs can keep the pocket clean for him, they may stand a chance. Even if Tampa Bay manage to lock down Cam’s threats on the outside, McCaffrey presents too much of a threat on his match-ups. 

Panthers 34 Buccaneers 20 

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