Who: Bucs (3-4) at Panthers (5-2)
When: Sunday 1 p.m.
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte
Spread: Panthers by 7 points (Courtesy of VegasInsider.com)
Here’s what to watch:
Return of “Fitz-magic”
In need of being energized, coach Dirk Koetter called upon 35 year old veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to rally his team last week in Cincinnati. And trailing by 18 points in the fourth, Fitzpatrick did just that throwing two touchdown passes and eventually getting the game tied with a minute to go. Even though the Bucs did not beat the Bengals, “Fitzmagic” was back.
So it made it easy for Koetter, with the Buccaneers at 3 – 4, to go back to the veteran, who had succeeded with two early outstanding performances in wins over the Saints and the Eagles.
Now, can Fitzpatrick summon the magic on the road at Carolina to get the Tampa Bay back to. 500?
Contain the Panthers 1-2 punch
Cam Newton is the unquestioned leader of the Panthers offense and he’s already having a tremendous 2018 season. Newton is completing 67% of his passes with 13 TDs and 4 INTs, to get the pass game rolling.
Newton can also make plays with his feet and is a huge running force at 6’5, 235 lbs. So, he’s not easy to bring down either. The Buccaneers will have their hands full with him.
Meanwhile, smaller in stature but equally as big in production, is Christian McCaffrey. McCaffery is a dual threat out of the backfield for new offensive coordinator Norv Turner. In fact, the Panthers may enjoy throwing it to the former Stanford Heisman Trophy finalists more than handing it to him. He has 44 catches for 300 yards in seven games.
Look for Bucs linebacker Lavonte David to shadow McCaffrey for a lot of this game.
Play a clean game
During the Bucs stumbles of October, a repeated theme was self-inflicted problems. Whether it’s turnovers, blown coverages or things like jumping off sides four times last week against the Bengals, you can’t have it if you’re going to win, especially on the road against good teams.
That’s the situation for Tampa Bay in this match-up in Charlotte. Lots of mistakes? Likely a one-sided loss.
However, if they get back to playing sound and mostly mistake-free football the Bucs may have a real shot at the upset.
Fantasy Football “Start/Sit” for Florida players Week 14
Everyone’s favorite time of year has arrived, that is if you had a good season. The fantasy playoffs are here, and if you made it, chances are some Florida players helped get there.
This week the Buccaneers will host the reeling Colts. The Jaguars will host the under-performing Chargers, and the Dolphins travel to play the ever-disappointing Jets.
The Buccaneers will entertain the Colts, who have the 13th overall defense. The Colts are 1-4 in their last five games and desperately need a win. Last week, they were torched on the ground by Titans RB Derick Henry. However, this was the first 100-yard rusher against the Colts this season.
The Bucs again surprised fantasy players last week, when Ronald Jones was benched in the first half for not picking up a blitz. This led to Peyton Barber scoring two touchdowns, while Jones had zero points. The Colts have surrendered two passing touchdowns in each of their last three games. Last week the Tampa Bay offense didn’t have to do nearly as much as usual.
This week, expect the Bucs vertical passing to be back throwing the ball at least 35 times. With a stout run defense, Jameis Winston will need to be at the top of his game in a big test for this Bucs team.
The Jaguars offense has been rough through the air with Nick Foles back. Now, Foles is back on the bench in favor of rookie, Gardner Minshew. The Chargers come into town with the 4th ranked pass defense, but let Drew Lock and Cortland Sutton connect for 74 yards and two touchdowns. The Chargers own the 18th ranked rush defense, and that is music to the ears of Leonard Fournette.
It has been a rough couple of weeks for the running back facing some stout run defenses. This weekend look for Fournette to get back on track. With the return of Minshew means the D.J. Chark becomes even more attractive. Chark was still the top guy with Foles in, but he and Minshew have a good connection.
The Dolphins are coming off one of the stunners of the year beating the Eagles in a 37-31 shootout. This week they set their sights on the Jets, who just gave the Bengals their first win. The Jets have the leagues’ best-run defense, which is usually significant. However, the Dolphins can’t run the ball effectively at all.
That means Ryan Fitzpatrick will be throwing a lot against the 19th ranked pass defense.
Last week Fitzpatrick and Devante Parker destroyed the Eagles secondary. This week they will have all the opportunities to do the same thing to the Jets. With the tight end position a mess, Mike Gesicki is an option again, who has scored in two straight games.
Colts Kicker Adam Vinateri out for Bucs game
The Colts are traveling to Tampa Bay but will likely take on the Bucs without their future Hall of Fame Kicker, Adam Vinatieri.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 5, 2019
Before the matchup last week against the Titans, Vinatieri had began to experience a bit of pain in his left knee, the leg he plants to kick with his right leg. He told reporters that the pain began to increase through the week which led him to be placed on the Colt’s injury report for the first time this season.
Later Friday afternoon, Indy made Vinatieri’s “out” status official:
Per Coach Reich, RB Marlon Mack and WR Parris Campbell are expected to play Sunday.
More on who's in and who's out for #INDvsTB:
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) December 6, 2019
Vinatieri who is currently the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, has struggled to be consistent this season and has made a career-low 68% of his field goal attempts. He’s cost the Colt’s a couple of games in his missed eight field goals and six extra points.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said Wednesday that Vinatieri saw some doctors and got scans to figure out the severity of the problem. From there, they’ll consult with doctors and make a decision, which could potentially end his career. He’s currently sitting at 599 made FGs in his 24 seasons, just one shy of the 600 mark.
Earlier this week, Indianapolis secured rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers and the 45 year old Pro Bowler had said on Thursday that if he got the go ahead from everyone, he’d take the field on Sunday.
“Docs and trainers and everybody will put their two cents in and we’ll see if we can go,” Vinatieri said. “If I can go, I’ll go.”
Obviously, he did not get good news, and that means the rookie McLaughlin is in to kick at Raymond James Stadium.
The Colts are looking to stay in the race for the AFC wild card spot, in a similar situation as the Bucs, so this Sunday (and really every Sunday from here on out) is a do or die for both teams.