Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3 Keys to Defeating the Carolina Panthers

Three things the Buccaneers need to do to knock off Carolina in Week 17.

A look back at all of the match-ups between the Buccaneers and the Panthers.

1. Stop the run.
The Panthers are as well-rounded of a team as you'll find in the NFL. If there is one area where there is a large discrepancy, though, it's their success passing the ball compared to running it. Carolina averages 222.3 passing yards per game, which land them in the bottom 10 in the league. They have been significantly more successful running the ball, picking up an average of 144.7 yards per game, the second-most in the NFL. For the Buccaneers to knock the Panthers off in Week 17, stopping their rushing attack should be front and center.

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  1. Avoid a shoot-out.**
    With the best record in the league, it should come as no surprise that the Panthers are among the NFL's best in terms of points per game. Carolina averages 30.8 points every time they step out on the field, which are the second-most in the league. If Carolina puts up points like that against the Buccaneers, it will be tough for Tampa Bay to climb back. The Panthers have one of the league's best defenses, earning a No. 5 ranking against the run and a No. 6 ranking against the pass.

3. Don't lose sight of Cam Newton.
Newton is an MVP candidate for a reason. His rare combination of size, speed and arm strength make him one of the most difficult quarterbacks in the league to prepare for. With Jonathan Stewart battling through an injury, Newton has become Carolina's second-leading rusher, picking up 626 yards. When the Bucs and Panthers met earlier this season, Newton led his team in both rushing and passing.

Photos of the Panthers' projected starters from team's website.

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