The Panthers are favored by six points heading into Sunday's contest (which is actually one of the smaller lines on the weekend). And sure the Bucs have zero wins in their last five games against the Panthers. But here's why the Bucs will win the game.
First off, let's look what has changed since the beat down the Bucs experienced five weeks ago.
Cadillac Williams is fully healthy and recovered from his foot injury. Up until the Falcons game, Cadillac was clearly not 100 percent. He had a difficult time cutting and was not breaking many tackles. A healthy Cadillac means the Panther's defense has to respect the ground game which makes things easier for Chris Simms.
Which leads me to the second reason the Bucs will win, Simms doesn't suck as much as he did five weeks ago. I still haven't seen anything other than the Falcons game (against a really bad defense) which really impresses me about the SoP. But still, he is playing better, and has developed a rapport with Joey Galloway.
This Panther's offense has been exposed as a fraud. Force Delhomme to throw to a receiver not named Steve Smith and his productivity drops significantly. Delhomme's completion percentage when throwing just to Smith is 69%, while his completion percentage to all other players is 55%. Additionally, runningback DeShaun Foster is the second leading receiver on this team.
Last week, Foster was the first runningback to rush for over a hundred yards for Carolina. The Panthers have almost no rushing game. Stephen Davis has entered the Jerome Bettis phase of his career, i.e. only useful within five yars of the goal line. And Foster is very similar to Deuce McAllister, which I don't mean as a compliment. Deuce gets stuffed when his teams needs yards but then rushes for 8 yards on third and ten.
And the final reason the Bucs will win on Sunday, everybody is picking the Panthers in this game. Sure the Bucs play lousy on the road this season, and the Panthers have owned Gruden's team, but Carolina has only one more win than Tampa Bay. Gruden has stepped up his team's performance in big games on the road. Just look at the NFC Championship game in Philly.
Nobody gave the Bucs a chance in that game but Gruden came up with a gameplan to defeat the Eagles and get to the Super Bowl. Bucs have an outside chance at making it back to the Super Bowl (if Simms plays better), especially if they can beat Carolina. The Panthers are a worse team than people have been saying, while the Bucs are better than what popular opinion says. But then again, what do I know?
And if you're wondering why I posted pics of FSU hotties, then well, obviously you're a chick or gay. (But hey if you're both and look like any of these hotties feel free to email me)