Game Predictions & Player Projections - CAR vs TB

Game Predictions & Player Projections - CAR vs TB

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Game Predictions & Player Projections - CAR vs TB

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Prediction: CAR 24, TB 16 (Line: TB by 1)

UPDATE: Cam Newton is listed as questionable but was able to practice limited on Thursday and in full on Friday. He is a game time decision according to HC Ron Rivera and his hairline fractures in his ribs will likely call for extra passing if he plays. I have lowered his rushing stats because of his ribs but check pre-game reports before using him this week because his ribs continue to be an issue.

This matchup has been odd. For the last five seasons, both teams take turns sweeping the other and the Panthers won 31-13 in Tampa Bay this year and later 27-6 at home. The Carolina offense is what has everyone worried but the defense remains one of the league’s most formidable and that will count big with the Buccaneers rolling out all new schemes and coaches.

Carolina Panthers

1 @TB —– 10 @PHI —–
2 DET —– 11 ATL —–
3 PIT —– 12 BYE —–
4 @BAL —– 13 @MIN —–
5 CHI —– 14 @NO —–
6 @CIN —– 15 TB —–
7 @GB —– 16 CLE —–
8 SEA —– 17 @ATL —–
9 NO —–  
News | Statistics | Roster
CAR @ TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 20 230,2
RB Jonathan Stewart 40 1-10
WR Kelvin Benjamin 5-50,1
TE Greg Olsen 6-80,1
PK Graham Gano 1 FG 3 XP

What has everyone concerned about the Panthers is that Cam Newton exploded on the scene as a rookie but has cooled down the last two years. He ran for 585 yards and five scores in 2013 but only passed for 3379 yards and 24 scores to a receiver corps that no longer exists. His decline in passing is expected to continue now that Brandon LaFell is in New England and Steve Smith went to Baltimore. The Panthers did draft Kelvin Benjamin but the rest of the receivers seem to have been picked up at the end of the day from a garage sale. The rushing effort has been mediocre at best for several years.

Newton passed for 221 yards and two scores in Tampa Bay last year. He managed 263 yards and two scores in the home meeting and he also ran in a score in both games while rushing for around 50 yards. He has a chance against a softer secondary but with all new receivers outside of the tight end Greg Olsen.

Olsen already led receivers with a stat line of 73-816-6 last year which is bound to increase for 2014. But Steve Smith (64-745-4) and Brandon LaFell (49-627-5) were only mediocre options anyway. Benjamin needs to burn through the learning curve early if this offense is to have much chance because Jerricho Cotchery is a 32 year-old journeyman playing on the back nine and Jason Avant is just another #3 receiver on a team that doesn’t throw well. How this all shakes out is critical to the Panthers success. Aside from one long catch by Ted Ginn, no Panthers wideouts gained more than 42 yards in either game with the Bucs. None scored in the Tampa Bay venue. Olsen only managed four catches for 29 yards in Tampa Bay last year though he scored once. He ended with 85 yards on five receptions in the home meeting.

Biggest problem for Benjamin is that he’s almost a lock to draw double coverage for the rest of his life or until the Panthers pick up some receivers that actually concern a secondary.

The rushing effort here is mostly devoid of fantasy value thanks to Newton stealing scores and the division of work that prevents any back from getting enough carries to really matter. DeAngelo Williams is another aging player who led the team with 843 yards and three scores last year. Jonathan Stewart was healthy for several days this summer but he’s been no factor for many years thanks to constant injuries.

No running back gained more than 43 yards in either meeting with the Bucs last year though Williams scored once in Tampa Bay.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The bad part is that the Bucs are weakest where the Panthers are weakest. Like the chance that Newton shows up with a better than anticipated stat line thanks to playing with players who have no game tape on them in this offense. They remain a risk to be sure but Newton makes a moderate play against a familiar foe and both Benjamin and Cotchery could have a decent showing here. Expect this game to go slower though and the defense of Carolina to help control the game. That means rushing yardage that gets split up three ways. The more interesting part will be the role that Jonathan Stewart will play.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 9 22 25 16 19 4
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 29 7 22 21 24 11

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1 CAR —– 10 ATL —–
2 STL —– 11 @WAS —–
3 @ATL —– 12 @CHI —–
4 @PIT —– 13 CIN —–
5 @NO —– 14 @DET —–
6 BAL —– 15 @CAR —–
7 BYE —– 16 GB —–
8 MIN —– 17 NO —–
9 @CLE —–  
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Doug Martin 50 4-30
WR Mike Evans 4-50
WR Vincent Jackson 5-70
TE Brandon Myers 2-20

The Buccaneers tilled the coaching soil and brought in Lovie Smith for head coach and Jeff Tedford is the new offensive coordinator. Tedford was the long-time head coach of the Cal Bears and was noted as a quarterback guru with Aaron Rodgers his crowning glory. But this is a new offense to install and the Bucs sent Mike Williams off to Buffalo while changing quarterbacks as well.

Josh McCown is the new starter which seems a curious move since most teams would not elect to rebuild around a 35 year old career back-up on his fifth NFL team. Mike Glennon takes the #2 role again. McCown really only had one year of any note when he played 14 games for the Cardinals in 2004. So yeah, sort of a surprise guy to start though he played with the Bears in 2011 and 2013 and Lovie must really like him.

Mike Williams is gone but the Buccaneers drafted Mike Evans to take his place and with that a big target over the middle. Vincent Jackson will remain the primary receiver but Evans could change that down the road. The 6-5 Evans is expected to become a red zone target from the start. This is a new offense and quarterback so harder to forecast but the combination of Jackson and Smith should prove powerful if the quarterback situation is acceptable. Glennon passed for 275 yards and one score versus the Panthers last year. Jackson led all receivers with 79 yards on five catches versus the visiting Panthers last year. He never scored on them.

The Bucs also sent Tim Wright to the Patriots recently which bodes well for Austin Sefarian-Jenkins who was their second round pick. Brandon Myers will be the starter if only because of his blocking skills but eventually Sefarian-Jenkins will be the primary receiving tight end – that is why he was drafted. His blocking skills are less important.

The Bucs also drafted Charles Sims to be the third down back but he’s already out with an ankle injury until week ten at the earliest. That leaves Doug Martin back in the saddle again and his shoulder is healed after robbing him of ten games last year. The absence of Sims not only showcases Martin more, but the coaching staff recently said that Martin was a better receiver than they expected. Martin was already gone when these teams met last year and the Bucs only rushed for 46 yards in that meeting.

The Bucs invested in their offense despite the question marks at quarterback. This first week will be a n excellent test.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Panthers rarely allow more than one passing score and the Bucs are installing a new offense anyway. This is a very good defense and one that should make the Bucs realize that they are still not proficient in their new scheme. The only fantasy plays from this risky bunch that makes sense would be Martin and Jackson. The rest are just unknown and facing a really good defense.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TB 31 26 24 27 28 12
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 2 4 3 19 10 6

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