Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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What's Next: Bucs Finish Regular Season at Home Against Panthers

The Bucs will finish their 2021 regular season at Raymond James Stadium against the Carolina Panthers, with a chance to capture the second seed in the conference playoff standings

Week 18 What's Next 1

After a stunning comeback victory over the New York Jets in Week 17, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers return home for their 2021 regular-season finale with a chance to move up to the second seed in the overall conference playoff standings. Their opponent will be the Carolina Panthers, whom they beat 32-6 in Charlotte in Week 16.

The NFL announced Sunday night that the Panthers-Buccaneers game would be flexed from the 1:00 pm slot to 4:25 pm and will be broadcast on CBS.

The Buccaneers improved to 12-4 with their 28-24 win on Sunday, in the process taking over the third seed in the NFC standings thanks to Arizona's win over Dallas. A win over the Panthers and a loss by the Los Angeles Rams against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 18 would bump the Buccaneers up to the second spot and guarantee them a second home game in the playoffs if they prevail in their first one.

The Buccaneers matched the franchise record for victories in a single season with Sunday's win, as Tom Brady hit Cyril Grayson on an improbable 33-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds left in regulation. In the process, they saw running backs Ronald Jones (ankle) and Ke'Shawn Vaughn (ribs) leave due to injuries and wide receiver Antonio Brown choose to exit the stadium. Head Coach Bruce Arians says Brown is "no longer a Buc."

As such, Tampa Bay's late-season roster shuffling on defense will continue, with potentially larger roles for the likes of running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receivers Grayson, Breshad Perriman and Tyler Johnson. The Buccaneers rolled up 391 yards in their road win over the Panthers two weeks ago and got another 467 against the Jets on Sunday, including 405 net passing yards.

The Panthers dropped to 5-11 on Sunday with their 18-10 loss to the Saints in New Orleans. Carolina has been eliminated from playoff contention but are still trying to determine who will be their quarterback in 2022. Carolina started Sam Darnold in their game against the Saints, with Cam Newton getting just one carry for five yards.

The Buccaneers will be going for their second straight season sweep over the Panthers in Week 18, something they've never accomplished since the NFC South was formed in 2002. Achieving that goal could make their path in the playoffs much more appetizing.

Full Week 18 Schedule:

Saturday, Jan. 8

  • Kansas City at Denver, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN/ABC)
  • Dallas at Philadelphia, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN/ABC)

Sunday, Jan. 9

  • Pittsburgh at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
  • Cincinnati at Cleveland, 1 p.m.
  • Green Bay at Detroit, 1 p.m.
  • Tennessee at Houston, 1 p.m.
  • Indianapolis at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
  • Chicago at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
  • Washington at New York Giants, 1 p.m.
  • Seattle at Arizona, 4:25 p.m.
  • New Orleans at Atlanta, 4:25 p.m.
  • New York Jets at Buffalo, 4:25 p.m.
  • San Francisco at L.A. Rams, 4:25 p.m.
  • New England at Miami, 4:25 p.m.
  • Carolina at Tampa Bay, 4:25 p.m.
  • L.A. Chargers at Las Vegas, 8:20 p.m. (NBC)

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