The Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are both 1-3 to start their seasons, far worse than either team hoped. But it’s the former that is the more surprising, as the Panthers are coming off an appearance in the Super Bowl and a showing in the regular season that included 15 wins and just a single loss.
One of them will take the first step towards getting their season back on track when they face off under the bright lights of Monday Night Football in Week 5. The game will be broadcast on ESPN, as usual, and a stream will be available live online at WatchESPN. The stream will require login credentials from a cable or satellite provider.
Carolina is riding a two-game losing skid, falling to the Minnesota Vikings, a potential playoff contender, and the Atlanta Falcons, who now lead the NFC South with a 4-1 record. The Falcons are a surprise breakout performer through five weeks of play and if the Panthers (or Buccaneers) hope to catch them, they have to start winning now.
It’s going to be tough for Carolina, though, as it does not have starting quarterback Cam Newton. He sustained a concussion against the Falcons and has already been ruled out for Monday’s game. As a result, Derek Anderson will be starting at quarterback for the Panthers.
Anderson, 33, is a career journeyman who has served as a backup with the Panthers for the past several seasons. In relief of Newton this season, he has completed 18 of 24 passes for 175 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The last time he saw significant playing time was 2010, when he threw seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 12 games for the Arizona Cardinals.
To make matters worse, Carolina’s defense doesn’t look anywhere near as good as a defense should under Ron Rivera. They allowed Julio Jones to torch them for 300 receiving yards in Week 4. Jones is one of the league’s top receivers, but 300 yards is ridiculous.
Tampa Bay, surprisingly, has its lone win over the Falcons this season. It was in Week 1, and since then, the Falcons have not lost. The Buccaneers certainly have, though, losing their last three while allowing a total of 104 points on defense and scoring just 46 in the same time.
Jameis Winston has sustained some big hits this season, and has been sacked 10 times in four games. He hasn’t been perfect throwing the ball, either, completing 58.2 percent of his passes for 1,108 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. Despite a promising season debut against the Falcons, Winston has shown a tendency to make very questionable decisions at the worst times.
But he’ll be dueling Anderson, and he’ll be facing a Panthers defense that has struggled in recent weeks. It may be a solid opportunity for him to rebound.
Below is all you need to watch the action on Monday.
How to watch Buccaneers vs. Panthers on Monday
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
Announcers: Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
Online Streaming: Sunday Ticket, WatchESPN