Revenge

The Bucs have played well on the road aside from the beating they took in San Francisco on October 19th. It is a new month, but the Bucs are hoping the old on again-off again season continues, at least through the game in Carolina. A road win against the division leading Panthers is just what the Bucs need to spark a winning streak to put them back on top in the NFC South.

If Stephen Davis is healthy enough to start Sunday (currently listed as questionable with an ankle injury), the Bucs know what awaits them – a strong dose of Davis. He had a season high 33 carries in week two on his way to 142 yards rushing. The Bucs are eager to redeem themselves by shutting Davis down in their crucial week ten meeting Sunday. If the Bucs plan to win, they will have to keep the defensive line fresh to avoid being worn down in the same fashion that they were in the teams' first meeting. This means forcing three and outs on defense and avoiding them on offense.

The Buccaneers have had trouble running the ball behind their patchwork offensive line, which has hindered their ability to sustain drives. In the four buccaneer victories, the running game has been able to pick up decent yardage on the ground on first down leaving them with manageable 3rd downs. The Bucs are a short yardage passing team and have more trouble than other teams in picking up long third downs. Keenan McCardell is the only legitimate deep threat in the Bucs' arsenal, and will be under the microscope of the talented Carolina defense.

Keyshawn Johnson had a good statistical game against the Saints last week, but no one care how many catches he makes when the team loses. The Panthers can cover Johnson with single coverage. But when they don't, tight ends Ken Dilger and Todd Yoder will have to take advantage and open things up over the middle and up the hash marks. Most of the catches made by tight ends thus far have been outside the hash marks, mainly in the flats.

The defense has its pride on the line against a Carolina team that is trying to gain the right to be called the best defense in the division. By beating the Bucs, Carolina would do just that, but the leadership and experience on the Bucs' roster will not let that happen. John Lynch will play, so look for the Bucs to be tougher against the run than they were last week.

A three game deficit will take away the Bucs' ability to control their own destiny. Relying on other teams to lose is no way to enter the playoffs, but it did pay off last year when the Saints fell apart down the stretch. Carolina lost a golden opportunity to take a three game lead over the Buccaneers when they were upset by the Texans, a break the Bucs needed and will hopefully take advantage of.

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