Kickoff Sunday, Jan 7th 1:00pm Eastern

Bucs (
20.5) at

Panthers (

Over/Under 36.5


Key Matchups
Buccaneers Run D
11th DVOA/5th Yards allowed per carry
Panthers Run O
25th DVOA/23rd Yards per carry
Buccaneers Pass D
15th DVOA/24th Yards allowed per pass
Panthers Pass O
32nd DVOA/32nd Yards per pass
Panthers Run D
32nd DVOA/13th Yards allowed per carry
Buccaneers Run O
29th DVOA/32nd Yards per carry
Panthers Pass D
20th DVOA/11th Yards allowed per pass
Buccaneers Pass O
15th DVOA/6th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By hilow >>
  • The Buccaneers can legit go from hosting a playoff game to out of the postseason altogether depending on the outcome of this weekend’s games. They currently sit atop the NFC South, meaning a win would lock up the division and a home playoff game. A loss all but eliminates them because they split the season series with both the Falcons and Saints and would hold the worse divisional record behind whoever wins between Atlanta and New Orleans (unless there is the unlikely scenario of a tie between ATL and NO).
  • The Panthers have long been eliminated from playoff contention.
  • Those two situations likely mean neither team will be interested in resting players here, instead playing a legitimate game in Week 18.
  • The Buccaneers are getting healthy at the right time, particularly in their secondary, with no players listed as ‘DNP’ on Thursday.
  • The Panthers also appear to be nearing full health, particularly in their secondary, with the biggest name still out of practice being K Eddie Pineiro.

How tampa bay Will Try To Win ::

We talked last week about how the Buccaneers have altered their offensive approach over the previous six weeks, with Week 17 marking the sixth consecutive contest with a PROE value at or below league average. That translated to only 15 team rush attempts versus 33 pass attempts a week ago, which is more of an indictment against their ability to move the football against the Saints than anything else. Basically, this team has transitioned to a unit heavily focused on a run balanced offensive approach irrespective of the matchup. Their slow pace, and ability to generate splash plays through running back Rachaad White and wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, has led to a decrease in offensive snaps per game during this most recent stretch of games, running more than a modest 62 offensive plays just twice in the previous six weeks (68 against the Falcons in Week 14, and 74 against the Jaguars in Week 16 where they generated four takeaways). Finally, the normally concentrated nature of the offense amongst White, Evans, and Godwin took a bit of a step backward last week but I chalk that up to their struggles cracking the man-heavy Saints defense, and this matchup with the Panthers is about as different as can be (the Saints are in man at the second highest rate in the league while the Panthers play the third highest rate of zone).

One thing that remained unchanged last week was the borderline elite snap rate and backfield share for Rachaad White, who handled 73 percent of the offensive snaps and 15 of 18 available running back opportunities (83.3 percent). The Panthers have been more vulnerable to volume and poor red zone defense than atrocious against the run this season, yielding a moderate 4.1 yards per carry (20th) behind an above average 1.18 yards allowed before contact. Allowing 25 total touchdowns to opposing backfields through 16 games will understandably inflate the DK points against numbers, which currently sit at 28th in the league (26.9). That said, the ground game is most definitely the path of least resistance for the Buccaneers in Week 18 and White should be the largest part of that success (or failure, to be honest).

The Panthers have done a phenomenal job at limiting production through the air this season, which is made even more remarkable considering their ineptitude in rushing the passer (league-low 16.9 percent pressure rate this season). Their defensive design under defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero should not be understated as they’ve held opponents to just 5.9 net yards per pass attempt and have given up only 19 passing touchdowns this year, both of which rank in the top ten in the league. That said, they have faced the fewest pass attempts against at just 449, or 28.1 per game – that’s what a two-win season will do to you. Even so, their back end has played at a borderline elite level with a combination of talent, veteran savvy, and scheme. The Buccaneers primary weapons see a closer distribution of volume against zone this season but overall volume is still highly concentrated on the previously mentioned three players. Mike Evans remains the big play threat and red zone threat. At the same time, White brings one of the top pure volume expectations at running back, contributing routinely through the air in a “bit more than the minimum required to offset the need for multiple touchdowns but bit less than is required to provide consistent paths to elite ceiling.” Godwin brings consistent, albeit lower pre-touch upside than someone like Mike Evans, but is still a primary contributor. The matchup and setup here don’t scream upside, but any one of these three players can make a difference on a slate like this.

How Carolina Will Try To Win ::

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