The Panthers have already improved upon last season’s 2-14 record, while the Bucs have lost more games in their first 11 contests this season than they did in 2010, when they barely missed the NFL playoffs with a 10-6 mark.
The Panthers are 2-3 in their last five games, while the Bucs have lost five straight.
Carolina's rookie quarterback, Cam Newton, has thrown for 3,093 yards—on pace to break Peyton Manning’s rookie record for most passing yards in a season—to go along with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Newton has also run for 10 touchdowns, just two shy of former New England Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan’s NFL record 12 rushing touchdowns by a quarterback set in 1976.
Though he’s on pace for nearly 4,000 passing yards in a record-setting NFL season in the Year of the Quarterback, Tampa Bay’s third-year signal caller, Josh Freeman, has regressed significantly from last season’s 25-touchdown/six-interception performance with 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions and just a pair of touchdown runs through 11 games.
In a game between teams headed in opposite directions, here are five reasons the Carolina Panthers will defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend.