Gameday Tampa BayNovember 18th, 2012
Bucs at Panthers
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
TV: Locally, WTVT-TV Channel 13. DirecTV Channel 705.
Radio: Buccaneers Radio Network (in Tampa WFUS-FM, 103.5 and WDAE-AM, 620); SiriusXM Channel 136.
Weather: Per AccuWeather.com, it will be chilly but not too awful. Kickoff temperature is expected to be 54 with winds around 10 mph under mostly cloudy skies. It won’t warm up much after that as the temperature near the end of the game will climb to 56.
Odds: Per Sportsbook.com, Bucs -1.5
Outlook: OK, so the Bucs are in a playoff run. Logically speaking, that means the Bucs are a good football team, no?? If one believes in this premise, then the Bucs should knock off the Stinkin’ Panthers. Good teams beat the teams they are supposed to beat. The Stinkin’ Panthers are lousy. Superman has ingested quite a bit of kryptonite. Cam Newton, though dangerous, has proved to be mortal. Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger he is not. Oh, the Panthers have some talent on the field. Steve Smith is as dangerous as any receiver in the NFL and we all know just how stout the Bucs pass defense is (cough, cough). Then there are the Panthers linebackers who who are as good as any linebacker unit in the NFL. This, Joe believes, will be the key to the game. The Bucs’ offensive line has been ripped to shreds by injuries and now backup Jamon Meredith is a monster question mark. The Panthers linebackers have to be licking their chops at the chance to face such a depleted offensive line. Panthers stud rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly all but said as much, stating this week the Panthers’ objective was to try to stop Doug Martin and make the Bucs a one-dimensional team. They know the Bucs, to be polite, are thin up front.
The enemy speaks: Below are some quotes from Panthers coach Ron Rivera and Kuechly about the Bucs-Panthers matchup today.
Kuechly: “We have to finish games, that’s been a trend. We play well at first but haven’t been able to finish a team at the end. We need to play well all four quarters. … [The Bucs] are clicking right now. They are running the ball extremely well right now and when you run the ball, your offense jumps. … [Moving from Will linebacker to the middle] I have become more comfortable as the season has progressed and the more reps I get, the more comfortable I get. I’m still not 100 percent comfortable. … We have to make a team one-dimensional and stop the run. So we have to take care our gaps.”
Rivera: “[The Bucs] offense is on track. Their quarterback is playing extremely well right now. He is limiting his mistakes and making great decisions. Doug Martin is becoming the running back that I think Coach Schiano envisioned him to be. I think [the Bucs] receivers are in sync. Their offensive line, despite injuries, have solidified themselves and look good. … Doug Martin is playing the way a lot of people thought he would be. He doesn’t play like a rookie. He makes a lot of good decisions. He is the complete running back.”