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Thursday, October 24, 2013
Top stats to know: Panthers at Buccaneers

By ESPN Stats & Information

Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesCam Newton has been one of the NFL's hottest quarterbacks over the past two weeks.

Week 8 of the NFL season begins tonight with the Carolina Panthers visiting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Here are some of the top stats to know entering the game.

1. Cam Newton has hit his stride over the past two weeks, posting a Total QBR of 89.4. That’s the best Total QBR among all quarterbacks with at least 50 action plays since the start of Week 6.

Newton’s recent surge is a stark contrast from the 33.9 Total QBR he posted over the first five weeks of the season, where he ranked 29th in the NFL.

2. The Panthers look to get over a major hurdle in recent years: the .500 mark. At 3-3, Carolina seeks to go above .500 for the first time since the conclusion of the 2008 season with a win tonight.

They have played a span of 70 consecutive games without a winning record, the fourth-longest such streak in the last 25 seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

3. On the other side, the Buccaneers are one of two remaining winless teams this season, joining the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tampa Bay seeks to avoid its seventh 0-7 start in franchise history, and its first since 2009.

The offense has struggled to finish drives, scoring six red zone touchdowns this season, tied for third-worst in the NFL.

4. Vincent Jackson has been a bright spot for the Buccaneers offense. The three-time Pro Bowler has eight games with 100-plus receiving yards since the start of last season, trailing only Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall for the most such games in that span.

Jackson has also developed good chemistry with his new quarterback Mike Glennon. Since Glennon became the Buccaneers starter in Week 4, Jackson has an NFL-leading 47 targets.

5. Across from Jackson and the Tampa Bay offense will be the Panthers defense, which has quietly been a dominant unit this season.

In addition to allowing the second-fewest points per game and third-fewest yards per game, the Panthers defensive unit has held opponents to just five red zone touchdowns this season, trailing only the Chiefs for the best mark in the NFL.