Carolina Panthers vs. Bucs: Prediction, best bets, and more

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Brandon Zylstra
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Brandon Zylstra /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Robby Anderson /

Carolina Panthers vs. Bucs: How will the game unfold?

Much will depend on whether the Carolina Panthers can set the tempo early with their star running back Christian McCaffrey. This is something they opted not to do in the first half of Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders as offensive coordinator Joe Brady looked to get the passing game up to speed after a preseason with no warmup games.

This strategy might alter on the road. But the Buccaneers boasted one of the NFL’s best run defenses in 2019 and they proved more than capable of shutting down McCaffrey in their two NFC South divisional matchups last season.

Controlling the clock is going to be crucial for the Panthers in this one. Their offense moved the ball extremely well with Teddy Bridgewater under center last time out and something similar, or even better, will be needed to give them any possible chance of success.

It would not be a surprise to see the Bucs use plenty of outside runs to stamp their authority given how much joy Josh Jacobs got in Carolina on opening weekend. Tom Brady will also aim to shake off an indifferent debut and there could be some openings due to the Panthers’ difficulties in coverage at cornerback and at the second level in Week 1.

The longer Carolina can stay in the game, the more nerves might creep into the Bucs’ play. They aren’t used to playing with high expectations on their shoulders and it will be up to the Panthers to put the pressure on.