Struggling Buccaneers host woeful Panthers, remain hopeful they can rally to win weak NFC South

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Thursday, November 30, 2023

CAROLINA (1-10) at TAMPA BAY (4-7)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST, CBS

: Buccaneers by 5.

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.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Panthers minus-7; Buccaneers plus-5.

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. He's six catches shy of becoming the first player to have at least 60 receptions in each of his first 10 seasons in the NFL. He needs 150 yards to join Hall of Famer Jerry Rice as the only receivers to string together 10 consecutive seasons with 1,000-plus yards receiving. Rice holds the record of 11 straight seasons from 1986 through 1996.

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.

SERIES Game notes

The Bucs have won five of the past six meetings between the NFC South rivals. The Panthers' lone victory during the stretch was a 21-3 win in Charlotte on Oct. 23, 2022. That was Carolina's first win following last year's in-season firing of former coach Matt Rhule.

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. RB Chuba Hubbard is the team's leading rusher with 453 yards through 11 games. ... WR Adam Thielen has been the team's leading receiver all season but was held to one reception for 2 yards by the Titans last week. ... The Panthers are tied for 30th in the league in sacks with 18. Six of those belong to OLB Brian Burns. ... Bucs QB Baker Mayfield, who began last season with the Panthers, has thrown for 2,588 yards and 17 touchdowns vs. seven interceptions. The sixth-year pro has made one career start vs. Carolina, completing 18 of 22 passes for 238 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions with Cleveland on Dec. 9, 2018. ... Mayfield appeared in seven games with Carolina, going 1-5 as a starter, before finishing last season with the Los Angeles Rams. ... Bucs RB Rachaad White is coming off the second 100-yard rushing performance of his career. The second-year pro ranks third among NFL RBs in receiving yards (364) and third in receptions (43).

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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