Nov 24, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon (8) looks to pass during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs Not Sneaking Up on Panthers


The two Coaches meeting in today’s Tampa Bay at Carolina game entered the season on very, very warm pieces of lawn furniture (read: HOT SEATS!) and yes, two of the NFC South’s head coaches are STILL on “The Hot Seat” today. One is indeed still Greg Schiano of the Tampa Bay Bucs, but the other resides in Atlanta, not Charlotte.

Schiano, however, has some momentum on his side as he brings his young squad into Charlotte, NC to do battle with the hottest team in the NFL right now. The Carolina Panthers are winners of seven straight games and are the NFL’s hottest team, speaking of heat. But the Tampa Bay Bucs have stopped their downhill tumble, caught a grip, and have turned things around themselves with three straight wins.

I normally do a more drawn-out analysis of the statistics involved each week, but yesterday’s college football action has the ole tank running on empty today. Auburn’s 109-yard FG return had this Auburn alum’s head spinning.

I can honestly say I’ve never, ever seen two consecutive games as bizarre as the last two Auburn games – either as a consecutive pair or pick any two ball games in history, put them back-to-back, and you couldn’t get much weirder. The “Immaculate Deflection” against Georgia and now “The Second Miracle?”

I know, I know. This is an NFL blog, but it’s football first. Hey, I even got blacklisted by a [fair-weather] Facebook “friend” who is a Georgia fan, so I know there are still a lot of sore feelings about things out there today. Get over it, people!

What I’m trying to get at is keep that in the back of your mind watching today’s NFL action. It IS a case of “Any Given Sunday” sometimes, and I said before the season even began that this year’s Bucs team is a team you’re going to want to catch early as opposed to later in the season when some of their young/new talent has had time to gel like a Dr. Scholl’s insert.

QB Mike Glennon looks more and more comfortable in his shoes each week as the rookie starter and is proving to be the most stable young QB of all the rookies Carolina will face this season. They’ve already been beaten (week two) by E.J. Manuel and have yet to see Geno Smith of the Jets, but have already beaten Glennon once and in his own house, so why the worry now?

Nov 17, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) defends Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I think the Bucs have really started to close the gap in the “learning curve” and the last three weeks are no fluke. It’s a team that had been under hotter and hotter spotlights each week until they finally broke through with their first win in nine tries for 2013 and they haven’t stopped winning since. Mike Glennon was the NFL Rookie of the Montth for November, which should tell you something about his improving play.

In short, Cam’s going to have to beat the Bucs in the air this week – or he’s going to have to convert a lot of third downs with his legs, one. This week, I think Tampa’s defense won’t allow the Panthers offense to run their power running scheme. I simply have a feeling or call it what you will that the Panthers’ already somewhat precarious running game goes cold this week and some other source is going to have to be the ignition for this engine.

Tampa Bay doesn’t exactly have it easy on the ground, either, as they go up against the NFL’s number one defense with a third-string running attack, so it’s not like the Bucs waltz into town in a position of strength. Both teams defend the run very well and I think both will continue to do so.

You see, DeAngelo Williams is inactive for the game, so otherwise most of the running will fall to Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart, who has been worked back into the rotation coming off his injured ankle the past few weeks.

The Panthers have a way of winning ugly, but win they do. I don’t think this one will be a pretty win either. I think offense will be at an especially high premium as the Bucs come in “believing” they can win…just like Gus Malzahn had his team thinking as the top team in the nation came to visit the “loveliest village on the plains” yesterday.

You want a limb?

Tampa Bay – 171 total yards…Carolina – 244 total yards.

Carolina 12, Tampa Bay 10

How’s that for being specific?

Keep Pounding and WAR EAGLE!

Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye

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