Buccaneers at Panthers: 3 things we learned

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football in Week 5, 17-14. Here are the three biggest takeaways from this game.

Week 5 had a close and exciting final game on Monday Night Football. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to knock off the Carolina Panthers, 17-14, to move to 2-3 on the year. Carolina falls to 1-4 on the season, only a year removed from going 15-1 and playing in Super Bowl 50.

Here are the three biggest takeaways from the Buccaneers’ Week 5 road victory over the Panthers:

1. Neither of these teams are making the NFC Playoffs

Entering the 2016 NFL season, many expected Carolina to win its fourth straight NFC South crown. Several believed that Tampa Bay was going to turn the corner in 2016 under first-year head coach Dirk Koetter.

What we learned during Monday Night Football in Charlotte is that these two teams aren’t going to end up qualifying for the 2016 NFC Playoffs. The gap between the Atlanta Falcons and these two NFC South teams is vast. All four teams in the NFC South have their vulnerabilities, but Atlanta is the only team that does several things well.

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It was a close game in Charlotte, but there were too many turnovers by the Panthers and other kinds of miscues by the Buccaneers to think that either club will contend with Atlanta in the division this year. The NFC South usually has a team vying for a Wild Card spot, but 2016 doesn’t look to be the year the division gets two teams in the NFC Playoffs.

2. Greg Olsen is still the best tight end in the NFC.

The Panthers may have had its offensive issues with Derek Anderson in at starting quarterback, but Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen is still one of the very best in the business. Anderson had three turnovers for the Panthers, but found Olsen to be his favorite target in the game.

Olsen had nine catches for 181 receiving yards on the woeful Tampa Bay secondary. The Panthers aren’t an elite offense, but have arguably the best tight end in the NFC in Olsen. His ability create separation in the middle of the field combined with his breakaway speed makes him the NFC’s version of Rob Gronkowski.

He is 31 years old, but is playing better than many tight ends several years younger than him. Olsen may only have a few more years of peak football left in the tank, but he is something else in the Panthers’ aerial attack.

3. Roberto Aguayo is pure heart attack.

Kickers are fickle creatures, especially rookies. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their second round pick on three-time All-American Roberto Aguayo out of Florida State. Aguayo was maybe the best college kicker ever, but has been all sorts of erratic in his five professional games to date.

Aguayo is 4-of-8 on field goal attempts this season. He was used sparingly in the Buccaneers’ first four games this season, but Tampa Bay needed him in the worst way on Monday Night Football. Aguayo was asked to kick field goals on five separate occasions, going 3-for-5 on the night.

It wasn’t pretty, but Aguayo nailed the game-winning 39-yard field goal to beat the Panthers in Charlotte, 17-14. That kick will do wonders for Aguayo’s faded confidence, but he’s still very much pure heart attack at this point on his short NFL career.

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