TV Schedule: Thursday, Oct. 24, 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Stadium: Raymond James Stadium
Weather: High 81, Low 59
Line: Carolina (-5.5)
With a 3-3 record to begin the season, the Carolina Panthers are looking to make some noise in the NFC — winning two straight games will help. Cam Newton began the season a little slow, but has since ramped up his play to midseason form. He is completing about 63 percent of his passes for 1,331 yards and 10 touchdowns through the air while rushing for another 179 yards and two scores on the ground. Veteran wide out Steve Smith leads the team with 28 catches accounting for 293 yards and three scores while tight end Greg Olsen in the team’s leading receiver overall. Don’t sleep on the run game as DeAngelo Williams leads the seventh-best attack in the NFL with 434 yards on the ground.
It’s been a tough season so far for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Heading into the 2013 campaign, many people though the Bucs would be able to contend for an NFC South title, but going winless through the first seven weeks of the season isn’t going to help that cause. Releasing Josh Freeman and replacing him with rookie quarterback Mike Glennon might have been a desperate measure, but it’s something that needed to happen. Glennon has passed for 722 yards and five touchdowns in his absence and he has been helped out by veteran receiver Vincent Jackson who has 36 catches for 544 yards and four scores. This team took another blow when Doug Martin fell to the injury bug and will be out for a while.
Defensively, the Panthers have one of the best units in all of football. Carolina ranks second overall in scoring defense, allowing just 13.8 points per game, as well as ranking third in total defense, allowing just 302 yards per game. Tampa Bay allows the fifth-least rushing yards per game in the league while ranking 13th in total yards allowed per game.
PREDICTION: Panthers 28, Buccaneers 20