Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Carolina Panthers predictions from the Tampa Bay Times staff

Here's our picks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. Sunday (FOX) at Raymond James Stadium:

Oh what could have been

Tom Jones, @tomwjones: Oh, what this game could have been. The Bucs could have been playing for a playoff spot. Instead, this is going to be the final game for both teams. Too bad. This could have been a heck of a day at Ray Jay. Instead, both teams are making tee times. The Bucs win a game that doesn't mean much to either. Prediction: Tampa Bay 24-17.

A winning home record

Greg Auman, @gregauman: It's unfortunate there's not more on the line, but the Bucs should be able to bounce back from two tough losses and end the season with the small consolation of a winning record for the first time in six years. Going from 0-4 to 4-4 at home is a reminder of early home games against the Rams and Raiders that got away. Prediction: Tampa Bay 27-17.

The Doug Martin effect

Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you: I have a confession to make. After I started the year going under .500 for several weeks, I solicited the help of my friend Martha, a former nun and school teacher who has an uncanny ability for predicting the outcome of NFL games. On her advice, I picked the Bucs — but the selection came before Doug Martin got suspended. Now I feel like a pall will come over the team and they'll spend most of the day wondering if they could have made the playoffs if Martin had avoided his off-field issues, played last week or spent most of the year at 100 percent. Prediction: Carolina 17-13.

Go with the desperate team

Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud: The Bucs simply need this game more than the Panthers. Forget the roughly 1 percent chance of making the playoffs. A home win, a chance to sweep Carolina and finish 4-2 in the NFC South, firmly out of the basement for the first time in five years by vaulting into second — all of it should matter. For Dirk Koetter, 9-7 sounds better than 8-8. They don't want to lose three straight in December to end the season. Prediction: Tampa Bay 24-21.

A point of pride

Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly: The game doesn't mean much, especially if you don't believe there will be any carry-over to next season. There won't be. It's merely a point of pride, and the Bucs will have enough of it to win and finish 9-7, all the while wondering what could have been. Prediction: Tampa Bay 20-17.

Just don't hope for momentum

Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: So the Bucs' playoff hopes come down to a tie. No, not whether Cam Newton is wearing one but whether the Giants-Washington game ends in one. ESPN puts the chances of everything falling into place for the Bucs at 60,000-to-1. At least a win will give them some "momentum" heading into next season, right? Here's Koetter's very polite way of calling that nonsense: "I know we're all going to feel better if our season ends with a win, however it is. But is there any mathematical proof that it helps you next year? I would say probably not." Prediction: Tampa Bay 27-13

Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Carolina Panthers predictions from the Tampa Bay Times staff 12/30/16 [Last modified: Friday, December 30, 2016 5:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jerseys worn by Tim Tebow fans commemorate the various phases of his athletic career


    Charles Bottoms, right, with his wife, Annie, wore the Tim Tebow Broncos jersey to Steinbrenner Field "only because I didn't want to wear my good (signed Gators) Tebow one." [RYAN ROMANO | Times]
  2. Rays morning after: 5 mistakes that led to loss to Blue Jays


    We've already documented elsewhere what the Rays didn't do, how they failed to take advantage of a prime opportunity to win Wednesday's game, getting just one run after loading the bases in the seventh with one out and three of …

    Jake Faria make too many mistakes, the failure to execute costing him repeatedly.
  3. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    You wonder if the scouting reports and/or workload are catching up to rookie RHP Jake Faria. The bottom line wasn't bad again, three runs in 51/3 innings, but he's having to work harder to get there.

  5. Rays journal: Chris Archer eager for eventful final stretch

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound today for the Rays as they head into the final 40 games of the season with little margin for error as they battle for an American League playoff spot.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) takes a moment on the mound in the second inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 6, 2017.