The Panthers currently have the worst record in the NFC behind struggling quarterback Cam Newton. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are 5-4 and are in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Still, Tampa Bay cannot afford a loss to fall behind in the standings. With Carolina desperate for a win, this should be a fun game to watch. Here are all the details for this NFC South battle.
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
When: November 18 at 1 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Spread: Buccaneers (-1.5) via Vegas Insider
Injury Report via ESPN as of Nov. 13
LB Quincy Black (Neck) Injured Reserve
WR Arrelious Benn (Shoulder) Questionable
DE Charles Johnson (Hip) Questionable
What They're Saying
Joe Person of the Sporting News pointed out the sophomore slump of Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton's completion percentage, passer rating and touchdowns—running and passing—are down. His fumbles, overthrows and interceptions are up. And the Panthers coaching staff can't figure out what to do about it.
This is a very real problem for everyone in the organization. Coming into the season, Newton was one of the few sure things on the team. Now, the front office has to make sure he is the right man for the future.
Fantasy Big Plays
After rushing for 251 yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago, Doug Martin disappointed fantasy owners with only 68 yards on the ground against the San Diego Chargers.
However, the rookie totaled 119 total yards from scrimmage, making it the fifth-straight game where he topped 100 yards.
He has become one of the most consistent players in the league at his position and he should be started in all fantasy formats.
The Buccaneers have statistically the worst pass defense in the NFL. Unfortunately, Cam Newton has been too inconsistent to take advantage of it after four interceptions in the last three games.
On the other hand, Steve Smith should be able to sneak free for some big plays if his quarterback can get him the football.
Smith has been targeted at least seven times in the last five games with an average of 10.2 per game. Therefore, he is getting the opportunities. It is just a matter of time until that turns into a very big week.
Key Matchup: Cam Newton vs. Tampa Bay Secondary
Neither side is performing well as of late, but this matchup will decide the game.
The Buccaneers have allowed the most yards per game in the league, but the unit is middle of the pack in opponent passer rating. This is mostly due to 15 forced interceptions, which rates third-best in football.
Newton will need to protect the football and make sure that he does not make any careless mistakes that can change the game. He cannot allow any more interceptions returned for touchdowns if he wants to keep his team competitive.
Prediction: Buccaneers 27, Panthers 24
The Panthers have a habit of losing close games. Regardless of who is to blame, the team has lost six of its last seven games, with four of the losses being decided by less than a touchdown.
This squad will also have a tough time containing an offense that has scored at least 28 points in five-straight games. The additions of Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson have made this offense incredibly dynamic and the unit will be tough to stop the rest of the year.
With the game on the line, Josh Freeman will be cool under pressure and help lead his team to victory.
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