Key Matchups for Panthers against the Bucs

The Carolina Panthers will look to keep their playoff hopes alive when they take on the Tampa Bay Bucs in Week 15. It will be Derek Anderson who will have to lead this offense with Cam Newton out due to a back injury suffered in a car accident this week. These are three key matchups the Panthers will have to win on Sunday against the Bucs.

Mike Evans vs. Josh Norman

The Bucs rushing attack has been awful this year (31st in the NFL) and if they are going to put points on the board it will most likely be through the air. Similar to the Panthers, the Bucs have a rookie wide receiver that is having an incredible season in Mike Evans. Over the past six games he has scored eight touchdowns while averaging over five receptions and 99.8 receiving yards per game. He has been able to do all of this with quarterbacks like Josh McCown and Mike Glennon.

The Panthers will look to cornerback Josh Norman to shut down the Bucs big receiving target and keep him out of the end zone. Norman has really had a strong second half of the season and was doing it against some of the top wide receivers in the game like Julio Jones and Jeremy Maclin. This is going to be a fun matchup to watch as both players are entering this game playing at a high level.

 

Gerald McCoy vs. Trai Turner

The Bucs defense has had a down year, currently ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in most statistical categories. One player who isn’t having a bad year is defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who already has 8.5 sacks on the season. McCoy has done a good job of controlling the middle of the field and teams usually have to assign two offensive linemen to keep him from making plays.

This will be a tall task for rookie guard Trai Turner who will most likely be lined up across from McCoy. The Panthers offensive line has greatly improved the past few weeks with the additions of Mike Remmers and Turner back into the starting lineup. This week will be different though as they will have to protect Derek Anderson who does not have the same mobility of Cam Newton. If Turner is able to keep McCoy away from Anderson, with the help of Ryan Kalil, the Panthers offense should be able to move the ball on this Bucs’ defense.

 

Jonathan Stewart vs. Lavonte David

The Panthers are going to have to change up their offensive game plan this week with Derek Anderson under center and not Cam Newton. Anderson is much more a pocket passer and doesn’t have the mobility or athleticism of Newton. The coaching staff should turn to Jonathan Stewart, who has been playing very well recently, to shoulder the load of carrying this offense.

The Bucs defense has struggled against the run and Pro Football Focus have given the Bucs run defense a cumulative rating of -43.2, which is 31st in the NFL. One player who has filled up the stat sheet is linebacker LaVonte David who has 106 tackles so far this season, which currently ranks first in the NFL among outside linebackers. This stat could be much higher but he also ranks second in missed tackles this year with 18.

If the Panthers are able to get the run game going, it will open up the entire offense and especially play action. This should give Anderson the opportunity to make high percentage throws, similar to what happened in Week 1 when he had success against the Bucs.


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