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Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB battle will be key in London

Carolina Panthers
Luke Kuechly leads a Carolina defence set to trouble Tampa all day
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For the second week in a row the NFL heads to Tottenham. Ben Steele previews the game and thinks Carolina will have too much for their NFC South rival.

"Quarterback Jameis Winston has the ability to create something out of nothing, but in the face of constant pressure I don't expect him to have a good game, especially as he and star receiver Mike Evans have appeared to be out of sync recently."

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, 14:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Action

Unstoppable force meets Immovable object in London

The quarterback is usually the most important person in any NFL team, but that may not be the case in Carolina. Running back Christian McCaffrey has been sensational so far this season, averaging 173.2 yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game, as the Panthers have coped well with the loss of Cam Newton. The only real blot on McCaffrey's copybook this season is his Week 2 performance against the Buccaneers.

In a 20-14 victory, Tampa's defence held McCaffrey to just 37 rushing yards, and have backed up that performance the rest of the year. Despite facing McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Matt Breida, Saquon Barkley and Todd Gurley this season Tampa Bay have the best run defence in the league.

Opposing running backs have been held to just 3.1 yards per carry, the best in the NFL, as Tampa have been a surprise package this season. Unfortunately for Buccs head coach Bruce Arians, his side might be the best against the run but are one of the worst against the pass. Sunday's game will be an interesting one, with the Panthers so dependent on their running back, but I fancy McCaffrey to have multiple opportunities to show his class and have over 91.5 rushing yards.

Allen must beat the rush to pick the Buccs apart

The Carolina Panthers started the season 0-2 as former MVP Cam Newton struggled with injury. Newton was then withdrawn from the lineup to give him time to recover and the Panthers turned to 23-year-old Kyle Allen to take the reigns, since then Carolina are 3-0. Allen has, of course, had the luxury of Christian McCaffrey as a security blanket but he has shown the ability to dissect opposing defences when given the time. Whether or not he'll get time this week will be key to Carolina's chances.

Tampa Bay's pass defence is terrible, argubaly the worst in the league, and the only way the defensive coordinator Todd Bowles seems to be able to stop the bleeding is to attack. The Buccaneers send the blitz with incredible regularity and Shaquil Barrett has been reaping the benefits.

The 26-year-old linebacker has recorded more sacks in five games this season than he has in the last three years. With pressure coming, look for Allen to get the ball out of his hands early, to tight end Greg Olsen and slot receiver Curtis Samuel. Both men are dependable targets who are a decent price to score anytime, but at 11/1 the explosive Samuel looks a good price to score the first touchdown.

Panthers rush can stifle Winston

When Carolina's offensive unit takes the field it will be a match up of strength vs strength in the run game; sadly for Tampa, when they have the ball their biggest weakness is matching up against Carolina's main defensive strength. Ron Rivera's defence are a bend but don't break unit, but it is their ability to get after the quarterback is making headlines in 2019.

Only the New England Patriots (25) have more sacks than Carolina (20) this season, as linebackers Mario Addison and rookie Brian Burns have made the offseason decision to move to a 3-4 scheme look like a masterstroke.

The Panthers will expect to add to their 20 sacks this season, as they face a Tampa Bay offensive line who are in the bottom five in pass protection. Quarterback Jameis Winston has the ability to create something out of nothing, but in the face of constant pressure I don't expect him to have a good game, especially as he and star receiver Mike Evans have appeared to be out of sync recently. Winston's passing yards line looks a bit too high to me, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him throw a couple of interceptions as he tries to force throws in to coverage. I'm backing under 271.5 yards for the former Florida State QB, and I wouldn't be surprised if he had fewer yards than his opposite number, Kyle Allen.

Ben Steele,

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