National Football League
Preview
Carolina at Tampa Bay
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 1, 2017
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter Week 17 with rail-slim chances of earning a playoff berth and without their top running back. Doug Martin will miss Sunday's home game against the Carolina Panthers to serve the first of his four-game suspension for a violation of the league's performance-enhancing drug policy.

The Bucs not only need to beat the Panthers to gain their first playoff berth since 2007, but also need wins by the Lions, Titans, Colts, Eagles and 49ers and Washington's second tie of the season. They have no one to blame but themselves for their dire situation after dropping back-to-back games, including a crushing setback at New Orleans last week when Jameis Winston threw two costly interceptions leading to Saints points in the 31-24 setback. Earlier in the season, Tampa Bay snapped a six-game losing streak in the series when Roberto Aguayo kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired in the 17-14 victory. The Panthers, who reached the Super Bowl last season, have long since been eliminated from playoff consideration.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Buccaneers -4.5. O/U: 46.5.

ABOUT THE PANTHERS (6-9): Cam Newton missed the team's first matchup of the season with a concussion, leaving Derek Anderson under center. Newton is once again on the injury report with a shoulder issue but is expected to play, as is tight end Greg Olsen (elbow), who also missed practice time during the week. The Panthers, however, won't have All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, who will sit out his sixth straight game after suffering a concussion on Nov. 17, and wide receiver Devin Funchess, who was placed on injured reserve.

ABOUT THE BUCS (8-7): Martin, who was a Pro Bowl selection last season, left the team to enter a drug treatment program and is not the only back who will miss Sunday's game. Charles Sims was placed on the injured reserve with a pectoral injury, leaving Jacquizz Rodgers, who leads the team with 485 yards on 112 carries with two touchdowns, as the lead back. Tight end Cameron Brate (57 receptions, 661 yards, 8 touchdowns), in the midst of a breakout season, also is out with a back injury.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Bucs WR Mike Evans needs nine catches to reach 100 for the season and ranks fifth in the NFL in both receptions and receiving yards (1,256).

2. The Panthers are 2-5 on the road this season after going 7-1 away from home in 2015.

3. Winston needs 112 yards to go over 4,000 for the season and 267 yards passing to snap Andrew Luck's mark for the most by a quarterback in his first two seasons.

PREDICTION: Buccaneers 30, Panthers 24
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf OT Div Conf
Carolina 6-9 L1 23.5 25.7 4-4 2-5 6-6 0-0 - - 5-6
Tampa Bay 8-7 L2 22.5 23.5 3-4 5-3 7-5 0-0 - - 6-5
Last Meeting
Carolina Tampa Bay
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
10/10/16 TB 17 CAR 14 414 136 278 315 113 202
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Carolina D. Anderson 64.3 278 0 2
Tampa Bay J. Winston 60.0 219 1 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Carolina C. Artis-Payne 18 85 4.7 2
Tampa Bay J. Rodgers 30 101 3.4 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Carolina G. Olsen 9 181 20.1 0
Tampa Bay M. Evans 6 89 14.8 1
Touchdowns Player TD
Carolina C. Artis-Payne 2
Tampa Bay M. Evans 1
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Carolina C. Newton 52.7 3272 18 11
Tampa Bay J. Winston 61.1 3888 27 17
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Carolina J. Stewart 198 759 3.8 8
Tampa Bay J. Rodgers 112 485 4.3 2
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Carolina G. Olsen 77 1051 13.6 3
Tampa Bay M. Evans 91 1256 13.8 11
Touchdowns Player TD
Carolina J. Stewart 8
Tampa Bay M. Evans 11