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Know Your Foe: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

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The Carolina Panthers wrap up their season with a familiar foe on Sunday, when they welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The 1:00 p.m. (EST) kickoff will pit the Panthers (2-14), coming off a shutout loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, against the fringe Bucs (8-8) at Bank of America Stadium.

The two divisional rivals have met 45 times, and the Panthers hold the edge in every facet (25-20 all time, and 13-10 at home). Learn more about the series history here.

Here's what to know about them.

Todd Bowles

Playoff implications abound

There are countless playoff implications across multiple games on Sunday, with varying metrics measuring different outcomes. But we were told there would be no math, so let's make this as simple as possible. If the Buccaneers defeat the Panthers on Sunday, Tampa Bay wins the NFC South and will be in the playoffs.

If the Panthers, who lost to the Bucs in early December at Raymond James Stadium but made it a three-point game, pick up their third win of the season and defeat the Bucs? Well then things get hairy, not only in the playoff picture, but particularly in the NFC South. If the Panthers win, then whoever wins the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints matchup (the two teams play each other at the same time as Panthers and Bucs) will take the NFC South's spot in the bracket.

Essentially, the Panthers have an opportunity to shake up the playoffs and guarantee to keep at least one divisional rival out of the postseason.

Baker Mayfield

Familiar faces, kind of new places

This will mark the return of Baker Mayfield to Charlotte, for the first time since being released (and subsequently picked up by the Los Angeles Rams) last season. Mayfield went 1-5 as a starting quarterback with the Panthers, completing 57.8 percent of his passes, with six touchdowns to six interceptions.

With the Bucs, Mayfield has found a resurgence, posting career highs in completions, completion percentage (64.4), yards (3,907), touchdowns (28) and QB rating (95.9), with one game to play. He also has the most rushing attempts of his career (57) and is 10 yards shy of breaking his career rushing record in a season.

The Panthers can take advantage though, by getting to Mayfield quickly and punching for the ball. He's been sacked 37 times so far, averaging 2.3 per game, and has fumbled eight times.

Mike Evans

The key to the game

The key to the game for the Panthers defense, quite simply, is stopping Mike Evans. That is of course easier said than done. Evans has 1,233 yards so far this season, with 13 touchdowns: the latter being one shy of his single season career record.

Based on experience however, finding a way to take Evans out of the game could shift the entire landscape. In the December 3 matchup, Evans was responsible for over half of the team's yardage that day (162 yards on seven receptions). Where Evans really shreds defenses though is in the endzone. He has a team high 13 scores this season. The next closest pass-catcher has four. Bracketing Evans in the red zone could force Mayfield into other options that are less reliable.

View all the action from the Panthers' game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 13.

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