The Buccaneers are playing a home game this weekend. Well, it counts as a home game at least. The divisional game will take place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England and will be the second and final time the Bucs face their fellow NFC Southers in the Carolina Panthers. Losing homefield advantage for a divisional contest isn’t the most ideal of situations, but the Buccaneers played the panthers just four short weeks ago in Charlotte. The Thursday Night Football matchup ended in a Buccaneer win in primetime, so Tampa Bay will be going in to this next game with some familiarity and confidence.
“It helps when you’ve seen a team already,” quarterback Jameis Winston said. “But, they’re on a hot streak, so we’ve got to come ready to play.”
Indeed, the Panthers are on a hot streak with rookie quarterback Kyle Allen filling in for the injured Cam Newton, who the Bucs faced the first time around. Allen has yet to lose as a starter and has a 107.4 passer rating since taking over in Week Three, good for a top 10 mark in that span.
"Some of the things they’re doing – they’re doing a lot more motions, a lot more screens [and] a lot more quick passing than they were doing,” Head Coach Bruce Arians said of the Panthers offense with Kyle Allen at the helm. “The jet motions and the sweeps and things, getting [Christian] McCaffrey out in space – which they had done a little bit against the Rams when we broke them down – but he [Kyle Allen] is an accurate passer. He’s playing really well.”
Allen is 60-for-90 with 674 yards and five touchdowns through three games. By contrast, Winston is 66-for-105 for 969 yards and nine touchdowns in the same span. Winston also owns the third-best passer rating in the last three games with 113.6. He’ll be facing a little bit different of a Carolina defense this time around, though.
“The only thing different that they’re doing is they’re being more simple,” Winston said. “They’ve been getting to the quarterback often and they’ve always had a really good front, but that’s the only thing.”
He’s right. The Panthers have the most sacks in the league since they last played the Bucs, recording 16.0 in the last three games. They’re top 10 in quarterback hits (21) and tackles for loss (17), too. It seems simple is working for them. With injuries along the offensive line, the Buccaneers will have a challenge in containing the Panther pass rush – but at least they know it’s coming.