Probably the biggest thing that the Carolina Panthers had to avoid in week 13 of the 2013 NFL season was to stay focused and not look ahead. Facing off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that has struggled largely but has also caught fire a bit as of late, the Panthers needed to get their eighth straight victory to remain competitive in the NFC South race.
The Panthers came out and did everything they needed to do to dominate a team they were obviously the superior to on Sunday, though. Despite an early turnover, Cam Newton rebounded to have a solid game where he led a number of successful drives, made a number of timely plays, and finished the game with two passing touchdowns and a touchdown carry as well.
As you might expect, the Panthers defense was also able to have a great deal of success against rookie quarterback Mike Glennon and company, forcing two turnovers, allowing just 206 total yards of offense, and limiting the Bucs to only two field goals in terms of scoring.
Newton and the Panthers defense now have a week to gear up for what could easily be called the biggest game of their young season. In week 14, Carolina will meet up with the New Orleans Saints, the team that currently holds the division lead, though they still have a matchup on Monday Night Football left to play. Regardless of if the Saints win or lose on Monday, though, their matchup with the Panthers will determine who holds the division lead with just three weeks remaining in the season.
The Saints’ high-powered passing attack and resurgent rushing game will arguably be the biggest test that the Panthers, who have been arguably the best defensive team in the league this year, have faced yet. Moreover, Rob Ryan and the New Orleans defense will certainly throw some interesting looks and blitzes at Newton, which will mean he will have to continue to show the poise that he has for most of this season. All in all, though, the Panthers taking down Tampa only makes their game next week have even higher stakes and even more exciting to look forward to.