© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It's Time for Panthers-Bucs, London Edition

Sharon Thorsland
October 12, 2019 - 12:34 pm

We've got an NFC South matchup across the pond Sunday, as the Panthers take on the Bucs in London.

It's the first-ever international trip for the Panthers, who are 3-2 on the year and have won three in a row after last week's win over Jacksonville.

The Bucs are playing for the third time in London and looking to bounce back after a 31-24 loss to the Saints last week that dropped them to 2-3 on the season.

The Panthers are looking for a little revenge against their division foes – the Bucs beat them on Thursday night football, and they'd like a little payback on the international stage.

To win, the Panthers will have to get through the Bucs second-ranked run defense, which is allowing just 70 yards per game.

Wait a minute, the Bucs are ranked 2nd in the NFL in rush defense? The same team that was at the bottom of the league for the past several years?

That's right, new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has turned this defense around. It starts up front with veteran defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

The All-Pro is a force inside. And then there's All-Pro linebacker Lavonte David, who leads the team in tackles and has an interception.

And don't forget about Shaquil Barrett. The linebacker has been a quarterback's nightmare this season, leading the NFL with nine sacks.

He also has three forced fumbles and an interception. Barrett and company will keep Kyle Allen on his toes.

Allen has one of the best weapons in football on his side, though – the Panthers are averaging over 143 rushing yards per game behind Christian McCaffrey, who has been putting on jaw-dropping performances this season.

The Bucs found a way to slow McCaffrey down in the first matchup, holding him to just 37 yards, but they'll have a hard time doing that twice.

Passing defense is the Bucs weak link – they're dead last in the league allowing 324 yards per game through the air.

That's a prime opportunity for Allen, who needs his receivers to step up this week and make some plays against a secondary that Bucs coach Bruce Arians called “soft.”

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston been playing a lot better the past few weeks. “Famous Jameis” got off to a disastrous start to the season, throwing three interceptions in week one.

The former Heisman Trophy winner has settled in, though, throwing for nine touchdowns and just two picks since then. The question is, which Jameis will show up on Sunday?

Winston's offensive line is in rough shape this week, they're down two starters. And of course, the Panthers boast “the Sackstreet Boys,” with a defense that ranks 2nd in the NFL with 20 sacks.

Winston does have a pair of big, physical receivers in Pro Bowler Mike Evans and third-year player Chris Godwin.

Evans has racked up five straight thousand-yard seasons, while Godwin has three straight 100-yard games and has six touchdowns.

They'll face a Panthers defense that ranks 4th in the league against the pass.

Run defense is a different story, though, and that's something the Panthers are going to have to shore up.

They're allowing 134 rush yards per game right now, that's 24th in the league.

The Bucs are middle of the road when it comes to running the ball, but they've got a solid 1-2 punch with Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones splitting carries.

This is obviously a big game for several reasons – it's on the international stage, the Panthers are riding a three-game winning streak, and most importantly, it's a division matchup.

The Panthers would no doubt like to exact a little revenge after losing to the Bucs last month and extend their winning streak at the same time.​

Comments ()