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Panthers to avenge week two loss to Bucs? Get NFL tips for London

Leigh Copson 11 Oct 2019
The Panthers & Bucs collide in London (credit:USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images)

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers predictions for the second NFL International Series Game of the 2019 NFL season. Can the Carolina Panthers avenge their week two defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they go head-to-head at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium? Read on for all of our free predictions and betting tips.

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday 14:30 BST)

The NFL’s takeover of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium continues this weekend with an important NFC South showdown between the 2-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the 3-2 Carolina Panthers. Can the Panthers open up a two-game gap between themselves and Tampa to keep the heat on division leaders New Orleans, or will the Buccaneers get the better of Carolina for the second time this season?

These two teams collided at Bank of America Stadium in week two and the Bucs provided the league with an early-season surprise by knocking off the toothless Panthers. The Panthers had their noses in front late in the third quarter having shaded what was largely a field goal battle between the two kickers, but Peyton Barber scampered in from 16 yards for Tampa’s second touchdown of the game with just over five minutes remaining in the quarter, and the visitors never looked back as kicker Matt Gay put the seal on a 20-14 victory just before the two-minute warning. That left Carolina 0-2 through their first two games and facing a ‘must-win’ week three clash with Arizona without the services of starting quarterback Cam Newton, who had been battling a foot injury. Enter Kyle Allen and, more importantly, enter wins!

The Panthers have reeled off three straight victories since Allen was handed the keys to the offense and while it would be foolish to claim that he is the sole reason for the turnaround, the young quarterback has at least made life a little easier for the Panthers as they await Newton’s return to fitness, throwing five touchdown passes opposite no interceptions. Allen has had troubles protecting the football however, fumbling six times and giving up possession on four of those occasions, so it has been vital that Christian McCaffrey built on his superb opening-day numbers to help out his inexperienced and fumble-prone team-mate. He has done just that.

McCaffrey has averaged over 200 all-purpose yards across the last three games, racking up five touchdowns in the process, and he heads to London on the back of his most impressive outing to date – one which has catapulted him into the discussion about potential league MVPs. Quarterbacks tend to dominate the MVP scene, but the 23-year-old made his case in week five as he rushed for 176 yards off 19 carries and racked up another 61 through the air in a three-touchdown performance that lifted the Panthers to victory over Jacksonville, and he will now look to follow that up with another strong performance against a Buccaneers defense that managed to keep him firmly in check in week two.

And if Tampa have any thoughts of winning this matchup, they need to stop McCaffrey. It is no coincidence that their two wins this season have come when they have managed to stifle the opposition’s run-game. Having held the Panthers to just 39 yards on the ground in week two they pretty much shut out the Los Angeles Rams’ run offense in week four, holding last season’s Super Bowl losers to just 28 yards in a sensational 55-40 victory at the Coliseum, and they also shone with four turnovers in that game. However, they gave up 112 yards on the ground against New Orleans last week, so this is a run defense that can be got at and I would be stunned if they halted McCaffrey again in London.

Therefore I have to back Carolina to come out on top and I have to recommend backing McCaffrey to play a leading role with a touchdown. But my first selection for this match does consist of three legs – I also expect to see plenty of points. The week two showdown managed just 34, but since that date the Tampa Bay offense has exploded into life to average 36.6 points per game across their last three outings. That 55-point showing against the Rams does skew that statistic a little, but we have seen enough to know that the Bucs will have their moments when they have possession. However, they will not have enough to prevent them making the long trip home as a 2-4 football team.

And for my second selection, I am going to stick with a recurring theme in this preview – I am backing McCaffrey to have a bigger impact than just scoring a touchdown. The Carolina running back has breached the 100-yard rushing mark in three of his five games so far, going close in another, and on a field that has been created specifically for NFL games, the conditions will be right for him to eclipse the 100-yard barrier on the ground once again on Sunday.

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Panthers to avenge week two loss to Bucs? Get NFL tips for London

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