Early line: Panthers (minus-2.5 points). Total: (48.5)
CAR 15TH OFF; TB 26TH DEF
CAR 4TH RUN; TB 2ND vs. RUN
CAR 23RD PASS; TB 32ND vs. PASS
CAR 11TH PTS; TB 29TH PTS ALLOWED
TB 18TH OFF; CAR 8TH DEF
TB 19TH RUN; CAR 25TH vs. RUN
TB 13TH PASS; CAR 3RD vs. PASS
TB 5TH PTS; CAR 11TH PTS ALLOWED
CAR T15TH TO/TA; TB 6TH TO-TA
Panthers lead all-time series 23-15-0, but Bucs have won last 2 games in series, most recently beating Panthers 20-14 at Carolina in Week 2 earlier this season despite being outgained 352-289. Bucs defense limited Carolina’s ground game to 19-39 rushing and 3-of-14 3rd-down conversions and sacked Cam Newton 3 times in Week 2 win.
PANTHERS steamrolled Jaguars 34-27 in Week 5 home win with a 285-yard, three TD ground game featuring early league MVP candidate RB Christian McCaffrey in a single-back, inside zone run scheme. Carolina registered its 3rd straight win and first victory at home in nearly a year.
McCaffrey continues to delight his fantasy-league owners after scoring 3 TDs and piling up 237 yards from scrimmage — including 176 yards on the ground — before exiting with five minutes remaining due to leg cramps in PANTHERS’ Week 5 win.
Any concerns over the NFL’s leading rusher’s exit were quelled when seldom-used backup Reggie Bonnafon added a 59-yard TD scamper for game’s final score with 3:34 left. Bonnafon’s TD came on same inside run play PANTHERS called earlier in game resulting in a franchise-record 84-yard TD run by McCaffrey.
PANTHERS’ McCaffrey went airborne on one 5-yard TD run, somersaulting into the end zone on a highlight reel first-half score. He also juked out several defenders to pick up first downs. He averaged 9.3 ypc and caught six passes for 61 yards and an 18-yard TD in another dominating performance.
PANTHERS’ McCaffrey had at least 175 yards from scrimmage and at least one TD for the 4th time this season. His latest big day put the 3rd-year RB on pace for 2,771 yards from scrimmage, which would shatter the NFL single-season record of 2,509 yards set by Tennessee’s Chris Johnson in 2009.
PANTHERS QB Kyle Allen continued to do well in place of the injured Cam Newton (check status), managing to avoid the turnover bug to become the first undrafted QB to win his first four career NFL starts since Kurt Warner. Allen (181 passing yards; 85.6 QB rating) did fumble on the game’s opening possession, but it was waived off by a penalty.
PANTHERS WR D.J. Moore was productive in Week 5 win with 6-91 receiving on 8 targets with a long of 52.
PANTHERS defense that has lost DT Kawaan Short (placed on IR Oct. 1 after having season-ending shoulder surgery) allowed Jaguars a whopping 507 total yards and 6-of-13 3rd-down conversions, but “D” came up with 2 key late stops and a 56-yard FR for a TD from rookie DE Brian Burns on a day when PK Joey Slye missed 2 FGs and a PAT.
PANTHERS’ defense thwarted Jacksonville’s final two scoring drives when Burns sacked rookie Gardner Minshew to force a turnover, and MLB Luke Kuechly batted down a pass near the goal line on the game’s final play.
Burns’ TD came after PANTHERS DE Mario Addison pushed former teammate OG Andrew Norwell into Jags QB Gardner Minshew, prompting the ball to come out and bounce into Burns’ hands. Burns reached a speed of 19.90 mph on the return — the 2nd-fastest speed by a D-lineman this season, according to Next Gen Stats.
PANTHERS’ Kuechly continued his march toward the Hall of Fame, becoming the fastest player to reach 1,000 career tackles (he had team-high 12 tackles in Week 5), and head coach Ron Rivera passed John Fox for the most coaching wins in franchise history with 74.
PANTHERS SS Eric Reid continued his strong play so far this season with a FR, 2 PBs and 10 tackles in Week 5 win.
Check status of PANTHERS LB Christian Miller and gunner Natrell Jameson, who left Week 5 game with ankle injuries; OG Trai Turner (DNP in Week 5; ankle), CB Donte Jackson (DNP in Week 5; groin), OT Greg Little (DNP in Week 5; concussion) and TE Chris Manhertz (DNP in Week 5; concussion).
In PANTHERS’ Week 2 loss to Bucs, Newton had 25-51-333-0 TDs-0 INTs (70.1 QB rating) and zero rushing yards on 2 attempts; McCaffrey had 16-37 rushing with a long of 10 and 2-16 receiving on 6 targets with a long of 10; Moore had 9-89 receiving on 14 targets with a long of 18; TE Greg Olsen had 6-110 receiving on 9 targets with a long of 41; WR Curtis Samuel had 5-91 receiving on 13 targets with a long of 44; Kuechly had 2 TFLs, a PB and team-high 18 tackles; and PK Joey Slye connected on 4 of 4 FGs (32, 37, 54, 51)
BUCS’ league-worst pass defense (323.6 ypc) surrendered 345 passing yards, while offense managed only 254 yards of total offense in 31-24 Week 5 road loss to division-rival Saints after scoring 55 points and gaining 464 yards in victory over the Rams the previous week.
BUCS defense that had major problems containing Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater (314 yards; 4 TD passes) and WR Michael Thomas (11-182-2) wasn’t helped any by the ejection of starting CB Carlton Davis III for unnecessary roughness when he launched into Saints TE Jared Cook’s neck and head area.
BUCS head coach Bruce Arians was not happy at all with New Orleans’ 8-of-15 success rate on third downs and lamented that Tampa Bay was just 3-of-11 in those situations.
BUCS’ subpar offense allowed 6 sacks (4 in the 4th quarter) and ran for only 94 yards before a two-touchdown deficit forced TB to abandon its ground game in Week 5 loss.
While BUCS WR Curtis Godwin continued to put up impressive numbers (7-125-2 receiving on 9 targets), WRI Mike Evans was a total nonfactor in Week 5 loss with zero catches on only 3 targets. It was just the second time Evans was held without a catch.
BUCS QB Jameis Winston saw his production drop dramatically from his triumphant 385-yard, 4-TD performance vs. the Rams in Week 4. He was 15-of-27 for 204 yards and 2 TDs to Godwin. Still, Winston was opportunistic enough to keep his team in the game most of the way (104.6 QB rating).
After BUCS rookie DB Sean Murphy-Bunting made his first career interception on a pass bobbled by Alvin Kamara in the first quarter, Winston effectively skirted pressure by climbing the pocket and hit Godwin for a 26-yard TD and a 7-3 lead.
Check status of BUCS ORT Demar Dotson, who left Week 5 game with hamstring injury;LB Jack Cichy (DNP in Week 5; elbow); and WR Brett Perriman (DNP in Week 5; hamstring).
In BUCS’Week 2 win over Panthers, Winston had 16-25-208-1 TD-0 INTs (103.4 QB rating) and 4-9 rushing with a long of 9; Godwin had 8-121-1 receiving on 9 targets with a long of 24; RB Peyton Barber had 23-82-1 rushing with a long of 16 (TD); Evans had 4-61 receiving on 8 targets with a long of 41; and OLB Shaquille Barrett had 3 sacks for 20 yards in losses, 4 hurries and 3 tackles.