Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate win over Jets last weekend
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Cyril Grayson, left, celebrates as he leaves the field after an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)

Buccaneers look to pummel the Panthers

The NFC South Champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4) host the Carolina Panthers (5-11) Sunday. The Buccaneers hope to tackle this conference opponent to improve their playoff-seeding.

Tampa Bay

The Bucs, led by quarterback Tom Brady, defeated the struggling New York Jets 28-24 Jan. 2. Though it wasn’t an easy feat, the reigning Super Bowl Champions secured the win late in the fourth quarter with a field goal followed by a touchdown.

But the rocky path to a victory wasn’t the story of the game. Wide receiver Antonio Brown made a disorderly exit mid-game, and immediately after the match, head coach Bruce Arians said, “He is no longer a Buc.”

Browns’ official release was announced by the team Thursday.

Tampa Bay has 15 players on the injured list. Most notably:

  • WR Mike Evans
  • OLB Jason Pierre-Paul
  • OLB Shaquil Barrett
  • S Mike Edwards

If the Bucs win Sunday and the Los Angeles Rams lose, Tampa moves to the second seed in the NFC playoff picture.

Carolina

The Panthers fell 18-10 to the New Orleans Saints Jan. 2, though the outcome looked positive at the half. The loss marked Carolina’s sixth-straight loss of the season.

Head coach Matt Rhule addressed that it’s possible that quarterback Cam Newton will play Sunday.

“I’ve said that all week,” Rhule said. “We put a plan together.”

Newton claims the career-most rushing touchdowns for a quarterback with 75. However, the battle for starting quarterback between he and Sam Darnold seems unending.

The Panthers have seven players on the injured list. Most notably:

  • CB CJ Henderson
  • WR Robby Anderson
  • CB Stephon Gilmore

Carolina stands in the way of Tampa’s team-record 13th win.

The matchup

The last time the in-conference opponents met up Dec. 26, the Buccaneers defeated the Panthers 32-6. The home team is eager for a 2-0 season sweep over the Charlotte team.

Kick off is set for 4:25 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium. Coverage starts here at halftime.

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