Finally, a Monday Night Football game with serious meaning and implications as these two division rivals square off tied for first in the NFC South.
The Panthers look to avenge their 27-3 loss to the Bucs at Tampa earlier this season (10/12/2008).
The Buccaneers head into Charlotte riding a 4-game winning streak as both the Buccaneers and Panthers are 4-1 over their last 5 games. In addition to their identical 9-3 records, the Buccaneers and Panthers are both undefeated at home (6-0), 3-3 on the road and now lead the Falcons (8-5) by a one-and-half games in the NFC South.
The Bucs currently have the better NFC South division record at 3-1; the Panthers are 2-2. Tampa Bay sports a better conference record (8-2) compared to Carolina's 6-3 NFC conference record.
PREDICTION: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 Carolina Panthers 21
The Panthers are simply not as good as their record indicates. Yes, the Carolina Panthers are undefeated at home (6-0), but they have not been dominate at home. Credit good fortune more than good play for the Carolina Panthers in their last two home games:
NFL 2008 Week 8 (October 26), the Panther barely defeated the Cardinals 27 to 23.
Accordingly, the Buccaneers are highly competitive away from home. With comeback road victories in Week 9 at Kansas City (30-27 OT) and Week 12 at Detroit (38-20) the Buccaneers now carry a 3-3 record on the road. The Bucs have lost those three games by a combined 11 points.
Carolina's 35-31 victory against the Packers exposed some weaknesses in the Panthers Defense and required alot of energy and effort from their offense. In the end, last week's game will exact a hangover effect on the Panthers and with that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will sneak away with a 24-21 victory.
Complete Bucs - Panthers Game Preview & Analysis: