Photo Courtesy of Ronnie Lane / WDAE
Each week, our own Ronnie Lane will share his thoughts on the upcoming Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. This week, Lane dives into the first Bucs-Panthers matchup of the season, televised nationally on the NFL Network, which can be heard locally on WDAE 620am/95.3fm and WFUS 103.5fm, with the Auto Owners Insurance Pre-Game Show hosted by Ronnie Lane and Anthony Becht beginning at 6pm.
By Ronnie Lane
It is very hard to believe as we kick off Week 8 in the National Football League, the Bucs and Panthers will do that tonight in the Thursday Night matchup on the NFL Network, that the Buccaneers have not won a game.
Tampa Bay is 0-6 heading into tonight's game at Raymond James Stadium. Carolina, on the other hand, come in at 3-3 and have won two in a row - three of their last four - after a slow start.
The Panthers of course are led by Cam Newton, who is showing signs of maturing into a pocket passer in the NFL. That's right; I said Cam Newton is showing signs of maturing and becoming a pocket passer in the National Football League. You know, to have success in this league, you can have some with the legs, but eventually you will have to win games from the pocket. And Newton has done that the past two weeks.
Last week, the Panthers signal caller was 15-of-17, very efficient, no interceptions with a couple of touchdown passes. He is a big, strong quarterback who is going to present tons problems for the Buccaneers defense that has frankly come up short the last couple of weeks.
Also providing a tough matchup for the Bucs' secondary is Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell. Smith is one of the toughest competitors I've ever seen in the NFL; Jon Gruden described him as a "rolling ball of butcher knives." He is fierce, he is highly competitive and that should be a great matchup today with Darrelle Revis at times.
The running game for the Panthers, although it has been slow the past couple of weeks, it is showing signs of picking back up with DeAngelo Williams.
The pass rush Carolina displays with the bookends of Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, with eight sacks between the two of them, is pretty outstanding. Luke Kuechly is an all-world linebacker. So, I think you get the picture here when I talk about the Carolina Panthers; they come in with the third-ranked defense in the league.
The Bucs, on the other hand, are scuffling - and I do mean scuffling. The running game is having trouble maintaining any consistency. With a rookie quarterback in Mike Glennon, and although I think Glennon is showing signs of improvement, and he has shown improvement through his first three games, I think this is just asking too much for that young man to beat a seasoned defense like Carolina tonight.
So as much as I would like to say the Buccaneers get their first win tonight on national television, I don't think that's going to be the case. They will play spirited, they will fight hard, but they will come up short again against an improving Carolina Panthers team.
The way I see it - Panthers 23, Bucs 17.