The pass rush. It's gone from being pretty good to almost nonexistent in recent weeks. The Bucs need to get more out of a defensive front that features some big-time talent in Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton may be elusive, but he’s not immune to making some mistakes if he’s pressured.
The defensive backfield. In the past two games, this unit has given up too many plays over its head. Carolina’s Steve Smith still can stretch a defense. Hint to coach Greg Schiano: Put cornerback Darrelle Revis in one-on-one coverage on Smith all game and let them battle it out.
Mike James as the feature back. With Doug Martin dealing with a shoulder injury, the Bucs will turn to the rookie James as their feature back. James has looked pretty good in limited action. He’s going to get plenty of chances because Tampa Bay’s not going to go away from its run-first philosophy.
Mike Glennon’s progress. Speaking of rookies with big roles, Glennon will make his fourth start and his first on national television. The quarterback has shown slight improvement with each start. But he has to hold up against a Carolina pass rush that will be the best he will have seen so far.
The crowd. The natives are restless because the Bucs are winless. Schiano was booed as he came off the field at the end of the last home game. There likely will be a lot of Carolina fans in the stands. If the Bucs don’t make use of the home-field advantage, things could get ugly.