Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Carolina Panthers Preview: Can Josh Freeman Lead Tampa Bay to the Playoffs?
November 19, 2012 2:54 AM EST
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to carve out some space in the NFC Wild Card race as they square off against the draft-minded Carolina Panthers Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.
Sitting behind Seattle and Green Bay, a win for the Buccaneers would keep them in the hunt.
Tampa Bay has now won four of their last five games, scoring at least 34 points, and quarterback Josh Freeman has regained the composure from his rookie year.
In a 34-24 win over the San Diego Chargers last week, Freeman went 14-for-20 for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Offense had carried the Buccaneers through their streak, but defense and special teams carried the win against San Diego.
Adam Hayward returned a blocked punt 29 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, and Leonard Johnson brought back an interception 83 yards for a score and the Chargers only managed a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Tampa Bay has found ways to win on either side of the ball, while the Panthers have struggled throughout the season.
Cam Newton and the Panthers fell to the Denver Broncos 36-14 last week, with Newton throwing two interceptions, including one returned 40 yards by Tony Carter for a score.
Newon went 21-for-36 for 241 yards and two touchdowns to tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen had a huge day, catching nine passes for 102 yards.
In a game where neither team could move the ball on the ground, Manning threw one score, and the Broncos special teams managed a 76 yard punt return for a touchdown by Trindon Holliday.
The game begins at 1 p.m. EDT and will be shown by FOX, or watch a live stream online by purchasing NFL Sunday Ticket Max.
Betting Odds: Tampa Bay is favored by 2 points
Over/Under: 48.5 points
Prediction: The spread is so low because the Panthers are home, but also because Newton could go off at any time. Tampa Bay has the best rushing defense in the league, but also one of the worst pass defenses. Look for Newton to run roughshod and lead Carolina to a win.
Predicted Score: Carolina 30, Tampa Bay 20
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