Carolina Panthers: Week 13 Preview

The Panthers welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Bank of America Stadium in what should be a hard fought division game. The Panthers need this win to stay in the hunt for the NFC South division crown. These teams met back in week 8 with Carolina running away with a 31-13 win, but that Tampa team was much different from the one Carolina will face on Sunday.

That team was in shambles. The franchise quarterback had been released, injuries had decimated the lineup, and there were rumors that head coach Greg Schiano had lost the locker room. All that aside, there is talent on this roster and these last few weeks have shown just how good this team can be. Carolina should not underestimate the Bucs.

The catalyst for the offense has been the emergence of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. He has been on fire during this three game win streak, he has completed a scalding hot 69% of his passes for 617 yards and he has thrown 5 touchdowns! This kid is playing very well right now.

Defense has loads of talent. For whatever reason they have not played well this season, but they are beginning to come together. The defensive line is led by Gerald McCoy, who over the current three game win streak, has contributed 10 tackles to go along with 4 sacks. The linebacker corps is talented as well with weak side linebacker, Lavonte David, doing his part with 18 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 1 interception during the same three game win streak. These players have led to the resurgence of the Bucs defense and should continue to perform well as the season ends.

Carolina will need to run the ball to win this game. Over the past couple of weeks the Panthers have not run the ball well other than Cam Newton. DeAngelo Williams may be out for this game so look for Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart to split the workload. The offensive line will have it’s work cut out for it as they try to protect Cam from the Tampa Pass rush. The offensive line has looked vulnerable these past couple of games, I hope they get it together for Cam’s sake. There is a chance All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis will miss the game, if so, Steve Smith should have a much easier time getting open.

Defensively Carolina will try to stick to the same formula which started this 7 game win streak. Stuff the run, and get after the quarterback. This formula has not worked so well as of late. New England rushed for 107 yards and threw for another 297, while Miami passed for 310 yards. The defense will be shorthanded with Charles Johnson sidelined with a knee injury. I thought it was evident last week how much Johnson was missed. The defensive line was ineffective at getting to quarterback Ryan Tannehill and he abused the Panthers secondary. If the line experiences the same sort of ineptitude, Glennon and Vincent Jackson will have the same sort of success had by Tannehill and receiver Mike Wallace. Carolina may have to blitz their linebackers more to pressure Glennon. This will result in more man to man coverage, which does leave the Panthers susceptible to the big play.  Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will need to be very creative in disguising the coverage and making it hard for Glennon to make the correct read on passing downs.

I see this game being much closer than what we saw back in week 8. Carolina is hot right now but so is Tampa Bay. This has all the makings of a classic NFC South battle. I see Carolina winning this one 27-20.

Follow us on Twitter @Cat_Chronicles\