It's tough to pick the Bucs tonight in Carolina.
I mean, who's standing at this point?
Not even the absence of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton guarantees success. Newton's back-up, Derek Anderson, is 2-0 in starts against the Bucs. The Panthers, like the Bucs, are 1-3, but the Bucs aren't defending NFC champions. Carolina will be snarling. And it's a Monday night. Bad vibe for the Bucs.
Speaking of who's standing, there might be a teaching moment here for Jameis Winston.
Jameis should take a look across the field at Newton, who is out with a concussion.
Look and learn, kid, from one big, strong football player to another .
Newton plays as if every play can turn into a touchdown. And he runs with the ball a lot more than Jameis. It's even part of the Panthers' game plan.
But both men both have a sense of invincibility in their bloods, the "It can't happen to me" DNA.
Well, it can happen to them. The NFL is filled with Tyrannosaurus defenders out to rearrange a quarterbacks' deoxyribonucleic acids. Newton takes a lot of hits, and is anyone willing to say those will prolong his career? Winston takes a lot of hits, too, though not so much from designed running plays, but bad blocking, or from him scrambling to the whistle, or as if there is no whistle.
Discretion isn't part of Jameis' game plan.
It needs to be.
There's a lesson somewhere in tonight's game. Newton, even after an MVP season, has yet to learn it. Winston needs to learn it.
His career, to the point, has mirrored Newton's early years, the ups, the downs, the talent, the learning curve.
It's time to learn how much your team depends on you being in one piece. Tough lesson.
Just look across at Cam Newton.