Buccaneers(1-3) vs Panthers (1-3)
The murky playing status of quarterback Cam Newton is the overriding story in what is shaping up as an early-season elimination game between the Carolina Panthers and the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night (Enter Contests). Newton, who guided Carolina to the Super Bowl last season, has not practiced all week due to a concussion sustained in last week’s loss to Atlanta. Panthers coach Ron Rivera will count on Derek Anderson to take over Newton’s duties this week. This change could be more beneficial than it looks because Carolina has dropped three in a row since a season-opening victory over the Falcons.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS
Carolina has issues on both sides of the ball, scoring only 10 points in a Week 3 home loss to Minnesota before its defense was shredded for 48 points in last week’s drubbing at Atlanta. Anderson was 17 of 23 for 172 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, including a game-clinching pick-six, in relief of Newton last week. He made two starts in place of Newton in 2014 and beat the Buccaneers twice in his career, throwing for three TDs and zero interceptions. Greg Olsen had 24 receptions and a pair of touchdowns. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin has 14 receptions for 196 yards and a TD in two matchups against Tampa Bay. Carolina had one of the league’s stingiest defenses in 2015, but it was carved up for 503 passing yards by the Falcons.
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS
The Buccaneers were torched for 104 points during their three-game skid and have lost six straight matchups to Carolina, including both last season by a combined 42 points. They were held to seven points for the second time in three games in last week’s 27-7 home loss to Denver as quarterback Jameis Winston continues to struggle in his second season. Winston has thrown as many interceptions as touchdown passes. Seven of the eight interception he collected came during the past three weeks. The young quarterback has absorbed a league-high 39 hits, although coach Dirk Koetter said playing from behind has left his quarterback more vulnerable.
Wideout Mike Evans has 26 receptions and three touchdowns in three games. Vincent Jackson had 10 catches for 147 yards and a score the last time he faced Carolina. Running backs Doug Martin (hamstring) and Charles Sims (knee) could both miss Monday’s game with injuries. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is also a question mark due to a calf injury.