Friday, October 16, 2009

My Panthers-Bucs prediction

Here are a few thoughts on Sunday's game between 1-3 Carolina and 0-5 Tampa Bay during a Panther news week so slow that the "big" news is that Jon Beason never really did invite Julius Peppers to dinner to talk about his performance after all and that Beason is sorry that he kinda sorta called Peppers out last week on radio station WFNZ (in a pretty gentle and quite honest way, I thought -- nothing much to be sorry about there).

What a tempest in a teapot that whole thing is. In any case:

** If the Panthers can’t gain 100 yards rushing against Tampa Bay Sunday – and they’ve only done that once in four tries this season – then their run game is really in trouble. Tampa Bay doesn’t have a good run defense (28th in the NFL) and by all rights Carolina should be able to beat them up a little.
But Carolina badly needs a breakout game from DeAngelo Williams to loosen everything else up. Neutralizing Tampa Bay’s fine middle linebacker Barrett Ruud will also be a key.

** I bet the NFL is kicking itself for sending Tampa Bay over to London to face the New England Patriots Oct.25th. The Pats in England? Sure. They’re a glamour team. Bucs? They’re horrible, they’re filled with players who are household names only in their own households – they are not exactly your ideal representatives for American football.

** I’m not saying Panther wide receivers coach Richard Williamson is old, but he once was an assistant for Bear Bryant at Alabama. He was also Tampa Bay’s head coach for the entire 1991 season, back when the Carolina Panthers didn’t exist. Incidentally, who do you think is older – Williamson or Bobcats head coach Larry Brown? Brown wins by an eyelash – 69 to 68.

** Expect at least one no-name Panther to make a huge play Sunday against Tampa Bay and possibly more. This is the sort of game where that happens – Tampa Bay is bad enough to present a lot of opportunities in that regard.

** The Panthers have fallen a long way since their 12-4 regular season in 2008, that’s for sure. But they haven’t fallen this far.

My prediction: Carolina 26, Tampa Bay 16.

(The stats: I'm 3-1 picking the Panthers so far this season, having missed the Dallas game and gotten the other 3 right. My preseason prediction for Carolina was 7-9).

Editor's note: Scott will be blogging live here on Sunday for the Carolina-Tampa Bay game. You can also follow him on Twitter: @scott_fowler.


Anonymous said...

CAROLINA OFFENSE: DeAngelo Williams and offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson have combined to murder many fantasy football teams this year. Williams hasn't topped 79 rushing yards all year, partly because he hasn't received more than 18 carries in any game. His 3.7 YPC isn't helping matters.

However, Williams is almost destined to have a monstrous performance at Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers can't stop the run to save their lives, so I'd actually be shocked if Williams and Jonathan Stewart didn't combine to reach the 200-yard rushing barrier.

With Williams and Stewart ripping off huge gains on the ground, Jake Delhomme should have an easy time converting third-and-short situations and play-action fakes against Tampa Bay's horrific secondary. The Buccaneers got stud free safety Tanard Jackson back against the Eagles, but it clearly didn't make much of a difference because Donovan McNabb burnt them on multiple long touchdowns.

TAMPA BAY OFFENSE: The Buccaneers will be able to run the ball effectively as well. Carolina is unfortunately worse against the rush than Tampa Bay is, so Raheem Morris' foolish 2-2-1 RBBC rotation could actually work this week. Also, Josh Johnson is more than capable of picking up some first downs by scrambling out of the pocket.

Johnson is a major upgrade over Byron Sandwich. He made some nice throws at Philadelphia and was victimized by some drops. He also showed great leadership on the sidelines.

However, Johnson's fatal flaw is his decision-making. He tossed three interceptions against the Eagles. Two were in the red zone; the third was deep in his own territory that led to a Philadelphia touchdown. Carolina has a solid secondary that could force him into making some more bad throws.

Under John Fox, Carolina has historically been better on the road (excluding last year). The visiting team has also owned this series, winning six of nine.

The Panthers victory over the Redskins could give Carolina the momentum it needs to beat Tampa Bay and reenter the NFC wild card discussion.

- History: Road Team has won 6 of the last 9 meetings (Home Team won the last 2).
- Jake Delhomme is 29-18 ATS on the road.
- Buccaneers are 13-6 ATS as a home underdog since 1996.
- Final Line: Panthers -3.5
- Final Over/Under: 39

Panthers 20, Buccaneers 16

- Dan S. from Cherryville

Anonymous said...

The who cares game of the week.

panfan1 said...

Dear Dan,

Did you write enough? Geez!!

I saw on Sports Center last night Steve Smith was listed probable(knee). And it said Steve Smith of the Panthers & not the Giants. Anyone else see that Friday night or no anything about it?

MrBernz said...

"Anonymous said...
The who cares game of the week.
October 17, 2009 3:41 AM"
Panther fans care you dummy, obviously you arent one so carry your negativity to a bandwagon team.

Anonymous said...

Bucs 17 Panthers 14. Geez, if Smith does not play who will replace his 40 yards per game>