Rant Sports has Carolina ranked 22nd in their week two Power Rankings, good enough for dead last in the NFC South.
The Panthers didn’t take too bad of a hit with these latest rankings, suggesting that most writers pretty much knew what the Panthers were going to be this year. Still, losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week one was somewhat of a shocker for many who follow the NFL.
Rant Sports NFL Columnist Jeff Shull writes, “I didn’t think there was any way the Panthers would lose to the Bucs, but such is life when making NFL predictions. It is Week 1 and you never know what can happen, but offensively the Panthers really struggled and it looked like Cam Newton took a step back. The good news is the defense played well, but they need to get both sides on the same page if they are going to challenge Atlanta for the division.”
That sums up the Panthers opening loss to the Buccaneers rather nicely.
Offensively the Panthers were awful, only scoring 10 points against a Buccaneers defense that ranked 30th in the NFL last season in total defense. The Panthers couldn’t run the ball either, only gaining a total of 10 yards on the ground in 13 attempts.
Passing wise, Newton looked frustrated at times, seemingly because he faced unnecessary pressure from the Buccaneers defense all afternoon long.
Aside from his third quarter touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon LaFell, Newton just didn’t have it on Sunday, throwing two interceptions and getting sacked three times.
Defensively the Panthers showed they can play. Carolina’s defense shut the Buccaneers down in the second half, keeping them out of the end zone and only allowing a field goal. The Panthers’ defense definitely gets the credit for keeping their game against Tampa Bay a one position contest for most of the day.
However, their run defense still looked shaky at times, giving up big chunks of yards to Buccaneers rookie running back, Doug Martin, who rushed for 95 yards on 24 carries. The Buccaneers as a whole attempted 30 carries for a total of a 130 yards rushing. A huge problem for the Panthers going forward will be if they cannot figure out how to stop the run; a problem that plagued them all of last season.