Thursday Night Rogerball is back for week 2, and we are off to Carolina to see if the Panthers, coming off a tough loss against the Rams, can bounce back against frisky Tampa Bay and new head coach Bruce Arians.
Tampa also had a frustrating loss against the 49ers, which saw Jameis Winston execute a magnificent Matt Schaub impression, throwing two pick sixes in the second half to blow what was a close game. Both teams are hoping to stay afloat in a tough NFC South, where all four teams looked at least decent on paper before the season started, even though Tampa and Atlanta came out flat in Week 1.
Carolina will look to find ways to stretch the Tampa defense with one of the leagues most balanced offenses. And by balanced, I mean balanced between their two offensive stars. With former MVP Cam Newton finally looking healthy again (for now) and Christian McCaffrey leading the offense, Ron Rivera has heaped a ton of pressure on these two to perform.
Newton and McCaffrey combined for all but one yard last week against Los Angeles, which is absolutely insane to think about. But that’s what it’s going to take to get this Carolina offense humming, with Greg Olsen bound to break down any week now, and unproven WRs in DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel.
Carolina’s defense did look very nice against the Rams last week as well, allowing just 349 yards on 4.9 YPP, which would have been good for a top 3 defense in 2018. I expect them to do well against a turnover prone, albeit revamped, Tampa offense.
Tampa Bay shook things up in the offseason, casting off Dirk Koetter and bringing in Arians. Arians, as you could remember, had a handful of great seasons at the helm in Arizona before ultimately choosing to retire after 2017. If there is a bright spot with the direction the Buccaneers are headed as a franchise, it is because of Arians. He has succeeded almost everywhere he has gone, however, I believe he is simply at too great of a talent disadvantage to make a serious impact this season.
Tampa’s secondary finished dead last in yards per pass attempt and completion percentage. While there is certainly a lot of noise surrounding the latter, YPA is definitely a good barometer of how well a secondary can maintain their coverage, as well as tackling at the initial point of impact. Tampa is going to have to improve that side of the ball if they have any hope of competing for a playoff spot in this division.
Monday’s picks were full of surprise results across the board for us. Had no business cashing the teaser, Saints going press man with 40 seconds left on back-to-back plays to end the game was fucking inexcusable. Thankfully Bill O’Brien is an even bigger doofus, and called an even worse set of defensive plays down the stretch, blowing a game in which the Texans led in the final minute for the fifth time in three years.
If anything, I thought we should have cashed the 1h play and not the FG play. Saints moved up and down the field with ease, but punted on 4th and 2 from HOU 45, threw a red zone pick, and missed a FG to close the half. Denver, on the other hand, just got pantsed. We move on looking to pick up from Monday’s madness.
- Panthers -6.5 -110