Brady looks to bounce back vs. depleted Panthers secondary

TAMPA BAY (10-4) at CAROLINA (5-9)

Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, Fox

OPENING LINE: Buccaneers by 11, according to FanDuel SportsBook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Buccaneers 7-7; Panthers 5-9.

SERIES RECORD: Panthers lead 24-17.

LAST MEETING: Buccaneers beat Panthers 46-23 on Nov. 15, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

LAST WEEK: Buccaneers lost to Saints 9-0; Panthers lost to Bills 31-14.

BUCCANEERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (2), RUSH (24), PASS (1), SCORING (1).

BUCCANEERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (3), PASS (20), SCORING (13).

PANTHERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (29), RUSH (16), PASS (29), SCORING (25).

PANTHERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (2), RUSH (t-19), PASS (2), SCORING (16).

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Buccaneers plus-7; Panthers minus-8.

BUCCANEERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Tom Brady: Brady and the Bucs were shut out last week by the Saints, so he’s expected to be highly motivated. He is 5-3 against the Panthers, including a Super Bowl win over Carolina in the 2003 season. He also beat Carolina twice last year after leaving New Orleans for Tampa Bay.

PANTHERS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR D.J. Moore: One of the more underrated wide receivers in the league, Moore has at least four catches in 13 games, and at least six catches in seven games. He needs just 14 yards receiving for his third straight 1,000-yard season.

KEY MATCHUP: Brady vs. Carolina secondary: The Bucs have the top-ranked passing offense in the league, but are struggling with injuries. The Panthers are No. 2 in the league in pass defense, but just lost yet another cornerback for the season in A.J. Bouye. That means Carolina is without its top three cornerbacks to start the season in Donte Jackson, Jaycee Horn and Bouye. The Panthers still have some depth there after acquiring 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore and C.J. Henderson in trades earlier this season. Both will start vs. Tampa Bay.

KEY INJURIES: The Buccaneers have lost WR Chris Godwin for the remainder of the season to a torn ACL, a hefty blow to the team’s Super Bowl title defense. Also WR Mike Evans and RB Leonard Fournette are dealing with hamstring injuries. … The Panthers will be without kicker Zane Gonzalez, who had made 17 straight field goals prior to injuring his quadriceps last Sunday during warmups.

SERIES NOTES: The Buccaneers have won four of the last five meetings, including a series sweep last year with Brady at quarterback. … Cam Newton’s last win as a Panthers starter came against the Buccaneers on Nov. 4, 2018. He has lost 12 straight starts with the Panthers since.

STATS AND STUFF: The Buccaneers can clinch the NFC South with a win or a New Orleans loss. … Tampa Bay is 4-3 on the road this season. … Brady threw for 341 yards and had four TDs — three passing and one rushing — in his last meeting with Carolina. … Brady has thrown for more than 295 yards and had a QB rating of 90 or better in three of his last four games vs. Carolina. … He needs four TD passes to join Aaron Rodgers as the only players in NFL history with three seasons with 40-plus TD passes. … The Buccaneers have allowed just 21 sacks, tied for fewest in the NFL. … Tampa Bay is second in the league in third-down conversion attempts at 46.4%. … Evans needs 91 yards receiving to become the first player ever with 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first eight seasons. But his status is unclear. … TE Rob Gronkowski has at least 50 yards receiving in four of his last five games. … LB Lavonte David has 26 forced fumbles since 2012, tied for third most in the NFL. … Carolina has lost its last five home games. The Panthers have not won at Bank of America Stadium since Week 2. … The Panthers have lost nine of their last 11 games overall. … QB Cam Newton is 0-4 this season as a starter. … Panthers S Jeremy Chinn needs two tackles to join Jon Beason and Luke Kuechly as the only players in team history with 100 tackles in each of his first two NFL seasons. … With one more sack, Panthers DE Brian Burns will have 10. He would join teammate OLB Haason Reddick in double digits, giving Carolina the only tandem with at least 10 sacks apiece. Reddick has 11 sacks.

FANTASY TIP: If Evans plays this week, he could be a major factor. In two games last season vs. Carolina with Brady under center, Evans caught a combined 13 passes for 181 yards with two TD catches.

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