4 Panthers that must step up in NFC South title showdown at Bucs

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) D.J. Moore
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) D.J. Moore /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Brian Burns – Carolina Panthers DE

It’s no secret that Brian Burns, recently selected to his second-straight Pro Bowl, is the best player on the Carolina Panthers defense. With primetime lights glaring, it’s time to play like that appointment was justified for the budding superstar.

Tom Brady struggles when under pressure, especially at an advanced age for any NFL player let alone a quarterback. The lack of mobility makes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vulnerable to a speedy rusher like Burns.

This is compounded when one considers the injuries that are beginning to pile up for an already battered Tampa Bay offensive line. While a game this vital to the Buccaneers’ future is not likely to be missed by anyone even remotely able to play, that very well could be an even worse outcome for the Panthers’ opponent if someone like Burns is able to exploit that extra half-step off the line.

Keeping Brady off balance and unable to complete his reads is the best way to cripple this Buccaneers team. It would also prevent them from orchestrating another late-game comeback like they have done so many times in 2022.

Hit Brady early and often. Eventually, those pressures will begin to mount and the offense will crumble around the aging signal-caller.

Burns is the future of the Panthers’ pass rush. What better time to take that next leap than against a division rival with the playoffs at stake?