Thursday night football will kickoff week two in the National Football League, and tonight it’s a matchup in the NFC South as the Carolina Panthers play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Both teams will be looking to get back on track as both are 0-1 after week one losses. The Panthers were home losers to the defending NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams, while the Bucs were losers at home to the San Francisco 49’ers.
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Here’s a couple things for each team to get a win in their second game of the season, staring with the road Bucs.
1. Pound that Rock
Ronald Jones’ opener was successful for the Bucs, as he went for 75 yards on 13 carries, a solid number for a Bucs ground game that had plenty of questions.
Jones’ run style is a breath of fresh air for Tampa, and also if he can’t get the job done early, the team can always turn to Peyton Barber, who had 33 yards on eight carries in the opener.
Look for the Bucs O-line to get a good push up front and open the run game.
2. Keep Winston Clean
The key to success for any Bruce Arians offense is to make sure the quarterback is upright enough to get the ball downfield to the wide outs and tight ends.
Last week Winston was sacked three times for 20 yards in the loss to the 49’ers, a team that threw a lot of looks at the Tampa offense.
Winston knows the Panthers and their D all too well, and it will be up to him to play well starting with the play form the line up front.
3. Tackle Newton
One thing whenever you play the Panthers is bringing down quarterback Cam Newton when you have the chance. The Bucs know this from their past games with him, and will need to do it again in this matchup.
If you let Newton get going and his confidence grows, he’s tough to bring down and tough to beat. There’s plenty of beef in that Bucs front line to put pressure on Newton, but last week they didn’t play well, getting just one sack the entire night.
We’ll see if this time around they play better and make sure they don’t allow Newton to control the game.
Keys for a Panthers Win:
1. Feed McCaffrey
The best playmaker on the field on either offense is Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, and last week he got off to a good start, rushing for 128 yards, and he also added 10 receptions against the Rams.
McCaffrey is at his best when he’s in the open field, and with a Bucs D that allowed too many big plays and points last week to the 49’ers, he should be in line for another solid game.
A big game for McCaffrey means more chances for Cam Newton.
2. Can the Panthers Young WR’s Step Up?
Last week up and coming receivers Chris Samuel and D.J. Moore had 10 combined catches in the close loss to the Rams at home.
This week expect them to get more chances in the Cats offense, as Newton will need to look downfield against a Tampa Bay offense that seems to be open to giving up big plays early and often.
3. Pressure Winston
Last week Bucs QB Jameis Winston threw three picks in their opening day home loss to the 49’ers, and some of that was due to the pressure that the Niners were able to get up front.
The Panthers let the Bucs escape with a 24-17 win the last time they played in Tampa last December, but that’s when the Cats were already in their free fall and not able to do much of anything on either side of the ball.
This time they are focused on both sides of the ball, and while it took them some time to get going against the Rams, the second half they played better, they need a big effort from the D to do that again on Thursday night.