Thursday Night Football: Panthers @ Bucs

TNF Week 8

Thursday Night Football for Week 8 of the 2013 NFL season brings us a matchup that may prove to be more interesting than the numbers lead us to believe. The 3-3 Carolina Panthers will be playing the 0-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, FL.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton puts his recent success in perspective, “It’s not me, it’s the offense,” he demurs. He goes on to say the line has been “playing great, and the guys have been catching the ball and doing something with it.” The Panthers are coming off two consecutive wins and looking to get over .500 for the first time since 2008. No one should take the Bucs for granted, however.

Only two of the Bucs six losses have been by 10 points or more, and three were within a field goal. The Bucs are scoring, they just aren’t scoring enough to win. The Bucs are coming into this game for the win. They are hungry and determined.

The Panthers have 16 touchdowns and a +5 turnover ratio. Newton has completed 108 of 170 passes for 1331 yards averaging  7.8 yards per pass. He has only five interceptions and has been sacked 18 times for a loss of 147 yards.

Conversely, the Bucs have nine touchdowns with a +0 turnover ratio. Before he was cut, Josh Freeman completed 43 of 94 passes for 571 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per pass and only two touchdown. He had three interceptions, seven sacks for a  47 yard loss. Current quarterback Mike Glennon has completed 76 of 130 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per pass with five touchdowns.  Glennon has also been sacked seven times for a 66 yard loss.

The Bucs defense has to watch out for Newton’s ability to run the ball. He has 179 yards on 39 rushes and Newton has speed on top of his passing ability. Tampa’s wide receiver Vincent Jackson will prove a challenge to Carolina’s secondary, but they have only allowed five receiving touchdowns all season.

Jackson has had two consecutive games with 100 or more yards and averages 15.1 yards per catch. Half of Glennon’s passes were targeted on Jackson last week and he is responsible for 54% of the Bucs’ receiving yards.

While Newton has reached a new level of comfort with the Panther’s offense, Glennon is gradually doing the same in Tampa. He has improved week over week since his start in Week 3. The rookie is well aware of what he will be up against in the game tonight. ”Their front four does a great job getting pressure…”

After throwing three interceptions in his first two games, Glennon has cleaned up his accuracy and went pick-free last week against the Atlanta Falcons. He is also a tall quarterback at 6’6 and has a good arm, according to Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. “(The Bucs) do a lot of play-action with him and he’s mobile…in the pocket.”

Both Newton and Glennon are young and mobile quarterbacks. Both offenses are capable of running and catching the ball and gaining yardage down the field. The win will come down to scoring drives, ball protection and defensive control of the field Thursday Night Football.

Considering just how close these two teams measure, it is difficult to make a call. Tampa cannot be judged on their record alone, and the Panthers cannot be judged on their defense and secondary. Everyone loves an underdog, and one can hardly get more under than 0-6. Taking into account the recent wins and the highly efficient Newton-led offense, we have to give this one to the Panthers.

By: Brandi Tasby

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