TV Schedule: Sunday, Dec. 1, 1 p.m. ET, FOX
Stadium: Bank of America Stadium
Weather: High 48, Low 33
Line: Carolina (-8.5)
Turning into one of the best teams in the NFL isn’t easy, but the Carolina Panthers are making it seem that way as they have taken down some of the top teams in the league while improving their record to 8-3 after starting the season off very slowly. Cam Newton has been the hero for this team, passing for 2,353 yards and 17 touchdowns while rushing for another 379 yards and five scores. He is quickly turning into an elite quarterback in this league. Veteran wide out Steve Smith has finally overtaken the team lead in receiving yards, after trailing only to Greg Olsen all season, with 51 catches for 581 yards and three scores. Olsen has 45 catches for 526 yards and five scores. DeAngelo Williams leads the team in rushing still with 610 yards and two touchdowns on four yards per carry.
Reeling off three consecutive victories after starting the season 0-8 has been somewhat relieving for Greg Schiano and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the second-year head coach’s job may have been salvaged with the mini win-streak. Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has made Schiano look smart for benching Josh Freeman after the first month of the season, passing for 1,782 yards and 13 touchdowns as Vincent Jackson has been his favorite target, catching 58 passes for 888 yards and five touchdowns while tight end Timothy Wright is emerging as a solid target, catching 34 passes for 366 yards and two scores. Bobby Rainey has filled in for the injured Mike James and and Doug Martin, rushing for 243 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensively, the Buccaneers were supposed to be one of the best units in the league prior to the season, but has been average. The Buccaneers rank 14th in the league in points allowed and total yards allowed as well as 21st in passing yards allowed. Carolina has been one of the best defensive teams this season, ranking first in the league in points allowed and third in total yards allowed per game.
PREDICTION: Buccaneers 17, Panthers 31