By Danny Cox
The Carolina Panthers may be a little shocked themselves to see the team in second place in the NFC South with the Atlanta Falcons playing as badly as they have so far. Carolina has won three of their last four and they are looking to get over .500 for the first time this season, but they’ve got a dangerous Buccaneers team to get through first.
Desperation on Their Side
Some may think that undefeated teams or teams with all the weapons on both sides of the ball are the most dangerous, but that just isn’t true.
The desperate teams are the ones that others really need to watch out for. Tampa Bay doesn’t have the pressure of playing for the playoffs. They aren’t looking to really win an NFC South crown. All they want is to salvage their pride and even out their win column against their losses.
Tampa Bay on Defense
Tampa Bay has not yet allowed more than 23 points per game this season and it is because they have a very good defense, especially when it comes to stopping the ground game. The Buccaneers are allowing less than 90 yards rushing per game, and only 252 yards passing per game.
A big reason for that is the play of linebacker LaVonte David who has four sacks, one interception, and 48 total tackles this season. Combined with Dashon Goldson, Gerald McCoy, Jonathan Casillas, Adrian Clayborn, Darelle Revis, and numerous others and the Panthers are going to have to use all of their offensive firepower to get points on the board.
Still, they may not have to put too big of numbers up.
Tampa Bay on Offense
Tampa Bay’s Achilles heel is that of their offense.
Of course, there was all of the quarterback turmoil early on in the season as Josh Freeman was benched and shown the exit. Now, rookie Mike Glennon is leading the offense, but not breaking records by any sense.
Glennon has good targets in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, but it is hard for them to get open and for him to get the ball to them. He’s a young player so he needs time to grow, but the rookie has got to put up better numbers than five touchdowns passes.
Unfortunately for the Bucs, he’s going to be relied upon a lot come this week’s game with Carolina.
Running back Doug Martin suffered a shoulder injury this past weekend that isn’t “season-ending” according to coach Greg Schiano, but the young back doesn’t have a lot of time to heal. With the Panthers coming to town on Thursday, Martin will likely be out for this week.
Tampa Bay did sign former Cleveland Browns running back Bobby Rainey, but he is also recovering from a groin injury and will be new to the team and the playbook.
Carolina really could take Thursday night’s game and get their fourth win of the season, but this is not one to take lightly. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are desperate and hungry, but may be biting off more than they can chew if they believe they’ll just take down the Panthers easily.
For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.