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NFL 2008 Week 14 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Carolina Panthers | NFL 2008 Week 14 Analysis & Preview

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  NFL 2008 Week 14:
  Bucs & Panthers to Unlock NFC South Deadlock on MNF

       NFL 2008 Weekend 14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3) at Carolina Panthers (9-3)

 

Bucs QB Jeff Garcia

Bucs QB Jeff Garcia heads to Carolina in NFC South Division showdown against the Panthers

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Finally a Monday Night Football game with serious meaning and some serious implications as these two division rivals square off tied for first in the NFC South.

The Panthers look to avenge their 27-3 loss to the Bucs in Tampa earlier this season (10/12/2008).

The Buccaneers head into Charlotte riding a 4-game winning streak as both the Buccaneers and Panthers are 4-1 over their last 5 games.

In addition to their identical 9-3 records, the Buccaneers and Panthers are both undefeated at home (6-0), 3-3 on the road and lead the Falcons (8-4) by one game in the NFC South.

The Bucs currently have the better division record at 3-1 as the Panthers are 2-2 within the NFC South and the Bucs sport an 8-2 NFC conference record compared to the Panthers 6-3 NFC conference record.

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There have been only five other games in history in which teams tied for first place with a winning percentage of .750 or better have played each other this late in the season (at least 12 games). The visiting team wound up winning all 5 games.

This is the first time that two teams at 9-3 from the same division will meet on Monday Night Football.

Following are the results of games in which teams tied for first place with a winning percentage of .750 or better have played each other at least 12 games into the season:

 

Date

Teams (Record)

Result

December 10, 1961

Giants at Eagles (9-3)

Giants, 28-24

December 11, 1983

Redskins at Cowboys (12-2)

Redskins, 31-10

December 15, 1984

Broncos at Seahawks (12-3)

Broncos, 31-14

December 7, 1986

Giants at Redskins (11-2)

Giants, 24-14

December 7, 2003

Colts at Titans (9-3)

Colts, 29-27

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3) vs Carolina Panthers (9-3)

The NFC South joins the NFC East as the only division where all teams have a .500 or better record. Since realignment in 2002, no team has repeated as the NFC South champion. And every team that finished last since 2002 turned around to win the division the following year.

The Panthers aren't enthused to be facing Bucs QB JEFF GARCIA. Garcia, a tough & resourceful NFL veteran, has beaten the Carolina the last five times he has faced them. Of course, Panthers QB JAKE DELHOMME has been his effective self this year, particularly at home. Delhomme has led Carolina to an undefeated 6-0 home record with the Panthers outscoring their opponents 166-78.

The game-changing players to watch in this matchup:

  • Panthers WR STEVE SMITH has posted five 100-yard games in his past seven outings vs. the Buccaneers.

  • Panthers DE JULIUS PEPPERS, moved around in alignments this year, has seven sacks in his past four games

  • Buccaneers LB BARRETT RUUD, not one of the better-known Bucs, basically never comes off the field, playing in all schemes -- nickel, dime, whatever -- and leads the club in solo tackles with an amazing 92.

The Series: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3) vs Carolina Panthers (9-3)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won two of the last three meetings in the series, including a 27-3 victory in Tampa earlier this season (10/12/2008). In that game, Tampa Bay LB Geno Hayes returned a blocked punt 22 yards for a TD. RB Warrick Dunn added 115 yards rushing.

The Carolina Panthers lead the all-time series 9-7, but the teams have split the eight previous meetings at Carolina. Tampa Bay is 3-5 at home and 4-4 away all-time against the Panthers.

Last season, Tampa Bay defeated the Panthers in Carolina 20-7 in their first matchup despite losing Cadillac Williams during the game. RBs Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham picked up the workload and rushed for a combined 138 yards and one touchdown on 32 carries.

The Panthers defeated Tampa Bay 31-23 in the last week of the NFL 2007 regular season with Tampa Bay resting most of its starters to prepare for the playoffs.

NFL 2008 Week 13: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 New Orleans Saints 20

Playing much of the contest in wet and windy conditions, the Buccaneers moved to 6-0 at home, improving on their best start at home in franchise history avenging their NFL 2008 Week 1 loss to the Saints.

With the victory, Head Coach Jon Gruden became the third youngest head coach in the NFL to reach 100 overall wins among those that began their career in the Super Bowl era.

Following a New Orleans Saints turnover on downs on the game's opening drive, the Buccaneers turned the ball over on their first possession to set up a New Orleans 47-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.

The Bucs responded on their next possession thanks to Matt Bryant who kicked a 38-yard field goal to tie the score at 3-3 early in the second quarter. Bryant added another field goal (23 yards), late in the first half to give the Buccaneers a 6-3 edge.

New Orleans started its next drive slightly before the two-minute warning and took a 10-6 lead into the half on a QB Drew Brees to WR Lance Moore 13-yard score.

The Buccaneers offense got off to a great start in the second half as they scored touchdowns on their first two possesions to stake a 20-10 lead.

RB Carnell Williams scored his first touchdown of the season on an eight-yard run on the opening drive of the second half. On the second play of the Buccaneers second drive of the second half, QB Jeff Garcia found WR Antonio Bryant for a 39-yard score.

The Saints drove to the Tampa Bay 20-yard line on the ensuing possession, but CB Ronde Barber deflected a Brees pass into the arms of LB Cato June in the end zone.

After a Buccaneers punt on their next drive and aided by an illegal contact penalty on the Buccaneers, the Saints cut the lead to three early in the fourth quarter as Brees hit RB Pierre Thomas out of the backfield for a 20-yard touchdown.

With 5:34 left in the game, the Saints tied the game at 20-20 on a Garrett Hartley 43-yard field goal.

Following a Buccaneers punt on the next possession, the Saints took over with 3:50 remaining in the game. On the third play of the drive, S Jermaine Phillips intercepted Drew Brees which set up Bryant's 37-yard game-winning field goal.

New Orleans had one last opportunity, but Brees was intercepted for the third time in the game, by CB Phillip Buchanon, to secure the Tampa Bay victory.

NFL 2008 Week 13: Carolina Panthers 35 Green Bay Packers

Last week the Panther travelled to Lambeau Field to face a Packers team that has not fared well over the past five games posting a 1-4 record. Despite the Packers dismal November, winning at Lambeau Field is always a difficult task even though the Packers are 3-3 at home this season.

The Packers climbed their way back from an 11-point halftime deficit to eventually grabbed a seven-point lead.

After falling behind 21-10 at halftime, the Packers were seemingly unstoppable in the second half. A 32-yard run by Brandon Jackson set up a field goal and Rodgers hit touchdown passes of 5 yards to tight end Donald Lee and 21 yards to wide receiver Greg Jennings to give the Packers a 28-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.

However, the Packers were undone by poor short-yardage execution at the goal line, shoddy kickoff coverage, and a couple of big plays by Panthers receiver Steve Smith.

Carolina's Mark Jones ran back the ensuing kickoff 51 yards to midfield, and then, Jake Delhomme found Smith deep over the middle for a 36-yard completion down to the 1 yard line. Smith outjumped Tramon Williams for the ball, and DeAngelo Williams ran it in to tie the score with 11:10 left in the game.

The Packers countered with a long clock-consuming drive, moving the ball from their own 20 all the way to a second-and-goal at the Carolina 1. But Jackson, who gained 80 yards on 11 carries in place of an injured Ryan Grant in the second half, was stuffed for no gain. And then fullback John Kuhn, who had been 4-for-4 on the season on third-and-1 conversions, was also stopped short on a dive play, forcing the Packers to settle for a 19-yard field goal and a 31-28 lead with 1:57 to play.

Once again, Mark Jones beat the Packers kickoff coverage for a 45-yard runback. Again, Delhomme went deep to Smith, this time out-leaping Charles Woodson for a 54-yard gain down to the 1 yard line. Williams (21 carries, 72 yards) ran in his fourth 1-yard TD of the game with 90 seconds remaining for what turned out to be the game's final score.

The Packers last opportunity was thwarted when Rodgers, who was 29-of-45 for 298 yards, three touchdowns and a 96.3 rating, scrambled to his right and tried to hit Donald Driver deep. But linebacker Jon Beason intercepted the pass at the Carolina 39, thus improving the Panthers record to 9-3 to remain tied for first place in the NFC South.

DeAngelo Williams had 21 rushes for 72 yards. Steve Smith finished the game with 105 yards receiving. Delhomme was 12-of-17 for 177 yards.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3) Notes

  • QB JEFF GARCIA has won 5 starts in row vs. the Carolina Panthers. Garcia has 9 TDs vs. 3 INTs in those 5 games. When Garcia has 95.0+ rating as starter (including playoffs), his teams are 36-12 (.750)

  • In Week 6, RB WARRICK DUNN rushed for 115 yards vs. Carolina and had 30-yard TD in last meeting at Carolina. Rookie RB-PR-KR CLIFTON SMITH is 1st player in team history with KR-TD (97 yards) & PR-TD (70) in the same season

  • WR JOEY GALLOWAY has 5 TDs vs. Carolina, including 2 of 50+ yards. TE ALEX SMITH had TD catch in last meeting. WR ANTONIO BRYANT had 24-yard TD in 10/13/02 meeting (with Dal.). WR IKE HILLIARD had 7 catches for 114 yards (16.3 avg.) in last game at Carolina

  • SS TANARD JACKSON & JERMAINE PHILLIPS & rookie CB AQIB TALIB each had INT in last meeting. Phillips aims for 3rd in row vs. Carolina with INT. Had INT last week. CB RONDE BARBER has 11 career defensive TDs (FR & INT), most among active players & 3rd all-time

Carolina Panthers (9-3) Notes

  • QB JAKE DELHOMME is 7-2 (.778) in career as starter vs. Tampa Bay. Has won 3 of 4 starts at home vs. Bucs. As a starter, when Delhomme has 110.0+ rating, the Panthers are 15-0

  • RB DE ANGELO WILLIAMS rushed for team-record 4 TDs last week. Aims for 6th in row with TD. Has 541 yards (108.2 per game) & 9 TDs in past 5. Panthers are 11-1 (.917) when he rushes for 80+ yards. RB JONATHAN STEWART has 6 rush TDs & ties for 2nd among NFC rookies

  • WR STEVE SMITH has 100+ receiving yards in 5 of past 7 vs. Tampa Bay. In 4 division games, has 26 catches for 498 yards (124.5 per game) & 2 TDs. Aims for 3rd in row with 100+ yards & needs 42 yards for 4th consecutive 1,000-yard season

  • DE JULIUS PEPPERS ranks 1st in team history with 67.0 sacks & 25 FFs. Has 11.0 sacks in past 10. In 12 meetings, Peppers has 11.0 sacks, including 2 games with career-high 3.0 sacks. CB CHRIS GAMBLE has 3 INTs vs. Tampa Bay, including 61-yard INT-TD.

PREDICTION: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 Carolina Panthers 21

The Panthers are simply not as godd as their record indicates. Yes, the Carolina Panthers are undefeated at home (6-0), but they have not dominated at home. Credit good fortune more than good play for the Carolina Panthers in their last two home games:

  • NFL 2008 Week 11 (November 16) the Panthers were fortunate to defeat the Lions 31-22.

  • NFL 2008 Week 8 (October 26), the Panther barely defeated the Cardinals 27 to 23.

Accordingly, the Buccaneers are highly competive away from home. With comeback road victories in Week 9 at Kansas City (30-27 OT) and Week 12 at Detroit (38-20) the Buccaneers now carry a 3-3 record on the road.

The Bucs have lost those three games by a combined 11 points. All three road losses have come against playoff caliber teams -- the New Orleans Saints (6-6), Denver Broncos (7-5) and Dallas Cowboys (8-4) -- and arguably some of the toughest road environments to play in.

Carolina's 35-31 victory against the Packers exposed some weaknesses in the Panthers Defense and required alot of energy and effort from their offense. In the end, last week's game will exact a hangover effect on the Panthers and with that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will sneak away with a 24-21 victory.

RELATED NFL 2008 Week 14

NFL 2008 Week 14: Playoff Races & Playoff Scenarios

Steelers Set to Shut Down Cowboys & Romo at Home

Tony Romo has led the Cowboys to three consecutive wins in spite of a broken pinkie. However, this week is a different story as the Cowboys pay a visit to the "Blitzburgh" Steelers and the NFLs best defense.

Despite the pinkie injury, Tony Romo comes off a 331-yard three touchdown Thanksgiving Day game performance in which he led the Dallas Cowboys to touchdowns in their first three possessions and points in its first four that ended in a 34-9 win over the Seattle Seahawks. But this is a Steelers team with QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER who is 14-4 lifetime against the NFC at the helm of a consistent offense and a defense that blitzes and distracts opponents into total confusion and ultimate submission.

Eagles Visit NFC East Division Leading Rival Giants in Midst of Burress Saga

Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook are back, but the Giants continue to roll. Off their Thanksgiving performances in the Eagles win 48-20 over the Cardinals, Eagles QB DONOVAN MC NABB (four TD passes) and RB BRIAN WESTBROOK (110 yards rushing, two TDs rushing, two receiving) look like they are ready to help the Philadelphia Eagles make a Wild Card run.

However, the Giants will be one tough test as the Giants have not lost an NFC East Division game since last December and are 6-0 this year at Giants Stadium, their longest home winning streak since seven in a row in 1990.

Redskins Short Trip North to Face Ravens in Beltway Bowl IV

The "Battle of the Beltway" between the Redskins and Ravens pits two strong running, tough defense teams in the midst of the NFL playoff scramble against one another. The Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens meet for only the 4th time and first time ever in Baltimore.

 

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NFL 2008 WEEK 14 SCHEDULE

(All times local)

Thursday, December 4
Oakland at San Diego, 5:00 PM (NFLN)

Sunday, December 7
Miami at Buffalo (Toronto), 4:05 PM
Kansas City at Denver, 2:05 PM
N.Y. Jets at San Francisco, 1:05 PM
Jacksonville at Chicago, 12:00 PM
New England at Seattle, 1:05 PM
Minnesota at Detroit, 1:00 PM
St. Louis at Arizona, 2:15 PM
Houston at Green Bay, 12:00 PM
Dallas at Pittsburgh, 4:15 PM
Cincinnati at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM
Atlanta at New Orleans, 12:00 PM
Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants, 1:00 PM
Cleveland at Tennessee, 12:00 PM
Washington at Baltimore, 8:15 PM (NBC)

Monday, December 8
Tampa Bay at Carolina, 8:30 PM (ESPN)

NFL 2008 WEEK 13 RESULTS NOVEMBER 27, 30- DECEMBER 1

(Home team in CAPS)

Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 27, 2008)
Tennessee Titans 47 DETROIT LIONS 10
DALLAS COWBOYS 34 Seattle Seahawks 9
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 48 Arizona Cardinals 20

Sunday, November 30
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 23 New Orleans Saints 20
N.Y. Giants 23 WASHINGTON REDSKINS 7
Atlanta Falcons 22 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 16
Pittsburgh Steelers 33 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 10
Denver Broncos 34 N.Y. JETS 17
San Francisco 49ers 10 BUFFALO BILLS 3
Kansas City Chiefs 20 OAKLAND RAIDERS 13
Baltimore Ravens 34 CINCINNATI BENGALS 3
MINNESOTA VIKINGS 34 Chicago Bears 14
Indianapolis Colts 10 CLEVELAND BROWNS 6
Carolina Panthers 35 GREEN BAY PACKERS 31
Miami Dolphins 16 SAINT LOUIS RAMS 12

Monday, December 1
HOUSTON TEXANS 30 Jacksonville Jaguars 17

 

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NFL 2008 Week 14 - NFL 2008 Weekend 14
NFL 2008 Week 14: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3) vs Carolina Panthers (9-3)
NFL 2008 Week 14 Preview & Analysis