What Buccaneers’ loss at the Bears means for the Panthers

(Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports) Tom Brady
(Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports) Tom Brady /

The Buccaneers’ defeat at the Bears on Thursday Night Football has some ramifications for the Carolina Panthers.

The Carolina Panthers will have had a close eye on the Thursday Night Football clash between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears. This was a game that could have gone either way at the end before the home team prevailed thanks to a mental error late in the fourth quarter by perennial Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady.

This brought the Bucs back to 3-2, which is the same record that the Carolina Panthers could attain with victory at the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. Breaking their curse at Mercedes-Benz Stadium would elevate Matt Rhule’s men to a joint-first place standing in the NFC South, which would be a remarkable achievement when one considers the lack of expectations from the outside looking in following wholesale changes this offseason.

There is still a long way to go, and the Panthers haven’t won a divisional game at the Falcons since 2014. But if they could take advantage of the disarray currently transpiring in Atlanta then it might get people talking about a possible postseason berth if things continue to trend on an upward curve.

Again, this sort of chatter was unheard of before competitive action got underway.

The Carolina Panthers can make their presence felt in the coming weeks.

Rhule will be keen to keep everyone’s feet on the ground. They have managed to put together two straight victories in order to get themselves back into contention. But there is plenty of hard work still to be done if they want something to play for at the business end of the campaign.

The Bucs have been hit and miss so far this season. This was to be expected given a substantial increase in exposure and a Super Bowl or bust outlook following Brady’s decision to join the franchise. And they have been without the services of stud wide receiver Chris Godwin for multiple games now.

Their game also caught the eye from Carolina’s perspective for another reason. They are due to take on the Bears at Bank of America Stadium next Sunday and if this was a game that many earmarked as a possible win for the Panthers prior to the season, it might not be that clear cut.

Chicago currently finds themselves at 4-1 despite making the move to bench quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in favor of veteran Nick Foles. Their defense is playing lights out and pass-rushing phenom Khalil Mack looks to be firing on all cylinders once again, which is bad news for any opposing offensive line.

The Panthers will be keen to take things one game at a time. There are sure to be plenty of twists and turns along the way as each player continues to form a close bond with one another, something they were unable to do on the field until Week 1 with no preseason games on the schedule.

However, this result should give them some extra motivation heading into their clash at the Falcons, who are clearly trending in the wrong direction and are likely to be without All-Pro Julio Jones.

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The league is starting to sit up and take notice regarding just what is happening in Carolina. They go into their game in Atlanta riding on the crest of a wave and Thursday night’s loss for the Bucs is sure to provide extra ammunition in their quest for a third-straight triumph.