Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London: Christian McCaffrey on show in Spurs stadium
Watch live on Sky Sports Action from 1.30pm on Sunday; kick-off is at 2.30pm
By James Simpson - @JS_Football
Last Updated: 13/10/19 1:47pm
Sunday's Week Six games begin with the Carolina Panthers taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, exclusively live on Sky Sports Action. Here is what to expect...
McCaffrey on MVP pace
Is Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey an MVP candidate? Absolutely. It's almost a given that a quarterback wins the award these days (a QB has won in the last six seasons), but the last player to buck the trend was Adrian Peterson with a 2,097-yard rushing season in 2012. Carolina's workhorse is heading towards an historic campaign.
In Carolina's 34-27 win over the Jaguars last week, McCaffrey managed a massive 237 scrimmage yards (176 rushing, 61 receiving) and topped 175 for the third straight game. With 587 rushing and 279 receiving yards so far, he has joined Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas as the only players in NFL history to record at least 500 rushing and 250 receiving yards in their team's first five games of the season.
Speaking exclusively with Sky Sports, Around the NFL's Marc Sessler raved about McCaffrey, saying: "[MVPs] are always a quarterback and that annoys me, because why are they calling it anything other than the best quarterback award? I'd go McCaffrey because what more can he do?
"They are just going to give him the ball over and over. 37 touches two weeks ago, he keeps doing acrobatic stuff that no other player is doing, he is fun to watch.
"It's time to give [MVP] to someone different than 'fill in the blank' quarterback."
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Already leading the league in yards from scrimmage (866), McCaffrey needs 134 on Sunday to join more Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Marshall Faulk as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 scrimmage yards through their team's first six games of a season.
The 23-year-old is special.
Seasons so far
The Panthers (3-2) started the season with Cam Newton at quarterback, and quickly found themselves in an 0-2 hole. However, after Newton was ruled out indefinitely with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot, second-year QB Kyle Allen stepped in and has been supremely impressive, leading the team to three straight wins.
In Arizona, he threw four touchdowns. Then, he was efficient in Houston and led his team to a surprise win over the Texans. Last week, he stepped back as McCaffrey took over in a 34-27 win over the Jaguars. Since Week Nine of last season, the Panthers are 4-0 in Allen's starts and 0-9 in all other games - it is clear this team rallies around the youngster.
In Bruce Arians' first year in charge, the Buccaneers have alternated wins and losses in every game so far, with a couple of surprises coming along the way. They lost at home to the Giants in rookie Daniel Jones' first start for New York, but then came right back and went into Los Angeles and stomped the NFC champion Rams 55-40. Which way will their season go?
This won't be the first time these two teams have met this season. In Week Two, the Buccaneers went on the road into Carolina and came out with a 20-14 win, holding McCaffrey to just 53 scrimmage yards in a hard-fought win as Newton struggled.
Players to watch
Kyle Allen (107.4) and Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (111.6) both rank top five in the NFL in passer rating since Week Two and are playing at high levels.
Allen is just the seventh QB in the Super Bowl era to have a 4-0 record and 100-plus passer rating over his first four career starts - can he keep it up? Meanwhile, Winston has four consecutive games with a 100-plus passer rating - the longest streak of his career. Both of these QBs are red-hot.
Clearly, Christian McCaffrey is the weapon to watch for the Panthers, but Buccaneers receiving duo of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans lead all team-mate duos with 879 combined receiving yards this season - each could produce a game-changing play at any moment.
The Panthers have plenty of defensive players to watch. Linebacker Luke Kuechly leads the NFL with 56 tackles this season and team-mate Shaq Thompson has 49, sixth-most. Brian Burns leads all rookies with nine QB hits this season, while Mario Addison has 6.5 sacks, third-most in the league.
For Tampa, Shaquil Barrett has been a superstar. He leads the NFL with nine sacks, while the rest of the defense has only produced a total of two between them! He will look to wreak more havoc in London.
- Allen is one of four undefeated QBs this season (Teddy Bridgewater, Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo) - he has the highest passer rating of all four
- Allen's 121 pass attempts without an interception is the fourth-longest streak to begin a career since 1991
- Winston has 10 pass TDs since Week Two (tied-most with Russell Wilson)
- Winston set the Buccaneers record for pass yards in the first five games of a season (1,371)
- The Buccaneers have allowed 91.6 scrimmage yards per game to RBs in 2019 (fewest in NFL)
- Godwin is the first player in Buccaneers franchise history with six-plus receiving TDs in the first five games of a season
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