Battling Buccaneers Take on Faltering Panthers with Hopes of Reviving Their NFC South Championship Chances

CAROLINA (1-10) at TAMPA BAY (4-7) Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST, CBS

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Carolina 2-8-1; Tampa Bay 7-4. SERIES RECORD: Panthers lead 25-20. LAST MEETING: Buccaneers beat Panthers 30-24 on Jan. 1, 2023, in Tampa. LAST WEEK: Panthers lost to Titans 17-10 in Nashville; Buccaneers lost to Colts 27-20 in Indianapolis.


PANTHERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Bryce Young. It has been a miserable season for the No. 1 overall pick as he’s been under intense pressure all season with the front five unable to protect him. Young has been sacked 40 times and the Panthers have given up the fourth-most sacks in the league overall (43). Young has not thrown a TD pass on the road since Oct. 15 and has only nine TDs passes in 10 starts this season. He has eight interceptions. The Buccaneers, with a savvy veteran defense will surely look for ways to bait Young into bad throws. Young has thrown three pick-6s this season. BUCCANEERS PLAYER TO WATCH: Bucs WR Mike Evans has 54 receptions for 850 yards and nine TDs.

KEY MATCHUP: Young against a Bucs defense that hasn’t been as reliable as usual during a stretch in which Tampa Bay has lost six of seven games following a 3-1 start. The pass rush has been inconsistent, members of the starting secondary have just two interceptions though 11 games, and the unit as a whole has struggled to get off the field on third down.

KEY INJURIES: The Panthers had to sign veteran guard Gabe Jackson on Wednesday because they are so depleted at that position. Austin Corbett and Brady Christensen are both out with season-ending injuries and rookie Christian Zavala injured his knee last week. TE Hayden Hurst is still in the concussion protocol and the team could be without S Vonn Bell (shoulder). OLB Marquis Haynes (back) and TE Tommy Tremble (hip) this week. Bucs QB Baker Mayfield (ankle) is on the injury report after briefly leaving last week’s game and returning to finish the game. He was a full participant in practice Wednesday, while LB Lavonte David (groin) and CB Jamel Dean (ankle) remained sidelined after sitting out against the Colts. LB Devin White (foot), CB Carlton Davis and LB Yaya Diaby (ankle) were limited in practice.

STATS AND STUFF: Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will serve as interim coach for the Panthers after head coach Frank Reich was fired last Monday following a 1-10 start. Reich was in his first season with the Panthers. … Carolina is 0-6 on the road this season. … The Panthers have not scored more than 15 points in a game since Oct. 15, when they lost 42-21 to the Miami Dolphins. … Carolina is 30-63 since David Tepper took over as owner in 2018, the second-worst record in the league. Only the New York Jets (28-65) are worse. The Panthers are assured a sixth straight losing season and have not been to the postseason since 2017, the year before Tepper purchased the team. … QB Bryce Young has one of the worst QB ratings in the league. Young has yet to throw for 250 yards or more in a game. Young is averaging just 5.4 yards per pass completion, so the Panthers rarely get much down the field. … The Panthers still have not had a 100-yard rusher this season.

FANTASY TIP: Evans and Bucs WR Chris Godwin have been tough on the Panthers. Evans had 10 receptions for 207 yards and three TDs the previous time the division rivals met at Raymond James Stadium. Godwin has 50 catches and four 100-yard performances over the past eight games he’s played against Carolina.


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