Brother versus brother. Father versus son. An epic contest of a shared will. That is what we have in one of the best rivalries in the No Frills Tough Guy League.
The Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do not play in the same division. For this reason, they are not guaranteed to play each other every season. In fact, it is unlikely that they would. However, they have. Over eight seasons they have faced off eleven times; At least once every season.
With a 6-5 record the Buccaneers hold the lead in what is the second closest rivalry in the league.
The Buccaneers took a commanding five games to two lead through the regular season of season six but the Panthers have surged and won three of the last four in the series.
What makes this matchup most interesting though is the breakdown of those eleven games.
Five times they have met in the playoffs. In season one, they played their only matchup that season in the playoffs and the Buccaneers won. Since then, the Panthers have dominated the playoff series and won four straight in these games that matter most.
Four of the six regular season matchups have taken place in the sixteenth week of the season. In games that more often than not decide which of these teams will get a bye in the first round of the playoffs; The Buccaneers have won every one of these four matches.
Three times the teams have played two games in one season. Every single time, whoever won the first matchup, lost the second. And every single time, the Buccaneers won in the regular season only to lose in the playoffs.
Twice they have gone to overtime and both times the Panthers have scored a touchdown to win the match.
In their first game against each other, the Buccaneers recorded their only shutout in the series. In their last game against each other, the Panthers recorded their only shutout in the series.
Only three times have these matches been won by more than one score.
For an almost even series, this rivalry seems wrought with lopsided statistics. One coach dominates in one area, while the other dominates in another area.
Dating back to the early days of the league, coach Lutton looked to coach Pine for guidance. It was between the second and third seasons that coach Pine spent much of the off-season training coach Lutton. Teaching him the tricks he knew and how better to utilize his team.
However, it wasn’t until the reforming of the league that coach Lutton started to really come back in this series. As coach Pine takes a less aggressive and less competitive style of play to the field, coach Lutton is focused and determined on victory.
In the upcoming NFTGL season IX, the two teams will face each other once more. The game will not take place in week sixteen. They have also never faced each other in the playoffs in back to back seasons.
At the end of the day these two teams are guided in different directions.
The Buccaneers coach is determined to have a good time. If he wins, he wins. If he loses, he loses. The outcome of the game is less important to him than his enjoyment of the event.
The Panthers coach plays to win. He trains to win. He wants to win. Losing is not an option. He cannot accept defeat. He cannot handle defeat.
Does this difference in philosophy affect the outcomes of their games? The Panthers and their desire to win at all costs have dominated the playoff matches these teams have played.
Two things we know is that the Panthers will ‘keep pounding’ in their quest to regain the Man Bowl Champion belt and the Buccaneers will do what they do and be ok with that.