Bucs at Panthers


ESPN, 8:30.

Favorite: Panthers by 3.

The skinny: The NFC South lead will be at stake when Carolina (9-3) hosts Tampa Bay (9-3). In their first meeting, a blocked punt and the first of Jake Delhomme's three interceptions staked the Buccaneers to a 14-0 first-quarter lead en route to a 27-3 rout in Week 6. Carolina has gone 5-1 since.

A week after giving up 45 points in a loss to Atlanta, the Panthers were in another shoot-out last week at Green Bay. Steve Smith's 54-yard catch in the snow set up DeAngelo Williams' fourth 1-yard TD run in a 35-31 win.

The Buccaneers have won four in a row, including a 23-20 victory over New Orleans last week when they intercepted Drew Brees three times.

The Bucs contained Smith in the first game, holding him to three catches for 43 yards. If the Panthers are to improve to 7-0 at home, they will have to find a way to contain their nemesis, Jeff Garcia. The Bucs are 6-1 since the former Eagle regained the starting quarterback job, and Garcia has won his last five starts against Carolina.

- Associated Press