After a Week 12 road loss in Indianapolis, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have just six games left on their regular season schedule as they try to stay in the NFC South title race. Four of those six games are against division opponents, beginning in Week 13 at home against the Carolina Panthers, so the Buccaneers will have every opportunity to control their own fate as they seek a third straight South title.
The 4-7 Bucs are looking up at a pair of 5-6 teams in the division after the Atlanta Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, but they'll start this title-hunt stretch run against the team behind them in the standings, the 1-10 Carolina Panthers. Carolina lost to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville by a 17-10 score on Sunday, and on Monday the team fired first-year Head Coach Frank Reich.
Wins have been hard to come by for the Panthers in what is clearly a transitional season with a new coaching staff - now led by Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor as the interim head coach - and a new starting quarterback in first-overall pick Bryce Young. The Panthers traded up in the 2023 draft to get Young, the slight but athletically gifted passer out of Alabama, and have stuck with him through the ups and downs expected from a rookie playing the game's most difficult position. He has started 10 of the Panthers' first 11 games, completing 61.7% of his passes for 1,877 yards, nine touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 74.9 passer rating. In his most recent outing against the Titans, Young hit on 18 of 31 throws for 194 yards but no touchdowns or interceptions.
The Bucs will enjoy what is a rare home date in this juncture of their schedule, the only game at Raymond James Stadium from Weeks 11-15. They will be trying to right the ship after taking their sixth loss in the last seven weeks in Indianapolis. The Bucs rallied from 10 points down to pull within three against the Colts in the fourth quarter but eventually absorbed the 27-20 defeat, in which an unusually leaky rush defense and six sacks of quarterback Baker Mayfield killed their comeback hopes.