Today the Bucs face a must-win game on the road against a division rival that is one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Other than that, all is hunky dory. Here’s what else there is to watch out for in this week’s game at Carolina.
Keep Em Under 30
We talked a little bit about it in the Opponents breakdown article. The Bucs defense has been horrific, but it’s even worse on the road. Tampa Bay gives up 39 points a game on the road, that’s not a recipe for success that even an offense as high powered as the Buccaneers can handle. If Tampa Bay can keep the Panthers under 30, something they’ve managed to do in only twice in their first 7 games, they stand a good chance to win in Charlotte.
Get Your Motor Runnin’
Part of the reason for Tampa Bay’s struggles on the road this season is the defense has started out very slowly in games. In each of their losses, Tampa Bay fell behind by huge margins by halftime:
- 30-10 Pittsburgh
- 38-3 Chicago
- 24-13 Atlanta
- 27-9 Cincinnati
If the Bucs can stay in this game or even have the lead by the midway break, they’ll likely win.
Do You Believe in FitzMagic
Ryan Fitzpatrick has had a wonderful resurgence in the Tampa Bay offense, becoming one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the NFL. Is it real? Hard to say. Fitz is playing better than he ever has in his NFL career and after being a nomad for 14 seasons, he may have found the right offense, with the right playmakers and the right play-caller. But Fitz is Fitz. He will tease you with solid performance and then break your heart being “Fitztragic”. A lot of the things Bucs fans are ready to ship Jameis Winston out for, Fitzpatrick has done time and time again in his career.
The Bucs have to ride the magical mystery tour as long as they can.
Pull on Superman’s Cape
When Cam Newton has that grin on his face, you know you’re having a bad day. You can’t expect a bad Bucs defense to stop Cam Newton. It’s not going to happen. But they can lean on him, hit him, frustrate him, and try to contain the damage the best they can. They have to prevent him from grinning the entire ballgame. If you can do that, you’ll beat Carolina. It’s of course, easier said than done.