Carolina Panthers

Bucs at Panthers: Joseph Person’s three things to watch

Get Anderson in an early rhythm

When he filled in for Cam Newton in a 20-14 victory at Tampa Bay in Week 1, Derek Anderson had success with a lot of short and intermediate-length passes. Anderson completed 20 of 34 passes, but only three were longer than 16 yards. Anderson did a good job getting rid of the ball quickly, and was sacked just once. Look for Anderson to go to tight end Greg Olsen early and often. Olsen was targeted 11 times – and caught eight passes for 83 yards and a touchdown – in the first meeting.

Cage up the Muscle Hamster

The Bucs have the league’s second-worst rushing offense, averaging 78.8 yards a game. Tampa Bay could be without running back Bobby Rainey, who was limited last week with an ankle injury. That means Doug Martin, the so-called “Muscle Hamster” who is averaging 3.0 yards a carry, likely will get the bulk of the work. If the Panthers can hem in Martin and force the Bucs into third-and-longs, they can go after QB Josh McCown, who is averaging one interception every 23 pass attempts.

Put the Bucs away

The Panthers dominated the first three quarters of the game in Tampa before the Bucs pulled to 17-14 with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. Tampa Bay nearly had a pick-six that would have given the Bucs the lead with less than two minutes left after Olsen slipped, but Dashon Goldson could not hang on. If the Panthers want to stay in the hunt in the Division No Team Wants to Win, they can’t let the 2-11 Bucs hang around. A week after a 41-10 victory at New Orleans, another convincing win might convince fans to get behind a team seeking the first back-to-back playoff berths in franchise history.