Date/Time: October 24th, 8:25 PM ET
Television: NFL Network
Spread: Panthers -6
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers go in search of their first win of the season on Thursday Night Football against the Carolina Panthers, whom they swept last season on the NFL betting lines.
The Panthers though, are as hot as could be right now. Everything is working for this team on both sides of the ball, as the offense and the defense have worked well together to produce a pair of victories in a row. Though these wins over the Minnesota Vikings and the St. Louis Rams both came against shoddy teams, it is very clear that the Bucs are one of the shoddiest teams in the league, and QB Cam Newton has to be salivating. After losing both games to the Bucs last year, Newton knows that he wants to put his best foot forward. He has certainly done that in his last two games, using a sort of minimalist approach to quarterbacking. The Panthers are throwing the ball around 40 times per game, but Newton has done a nice job completing right around 80% of his passes in his last two games, posting a 148.6 quarterback rating in those two outings. Simply put, if Newton can post a 100+ QB rating against the Bucs, Carolina is winning this game.
The reason for that is simple: Tampa Bay simply isn’t very good. The team’s best offensive weapon, RB Doug Martin suffered a torn labrum last week against the Atlanta Falcons, and his season is now over with. Nearly 35% of the offense’s snaps have gone into the hands of Martin in some form or another over the course of the first six games of the season, and what’s left is RB Mike James and RB Brian Leonard, who have combined for 20 carries and 63 yards this year. It’s not like the offense can score less, though. Martin only had one touchdown on the season, and that was the only rushing score that the team has posted so far on the season. That might not be the worst part, though. The Bucs have allowed back to back quarterbacks to absolutely rip them apart. QB Nick Foles was the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week two weeks ago, and last week, QB Matt Ryan became the second straight QB with three TDs and no picks against this unit even though he didn’t have WR Roddy White or WR Julio Jones in the game, while TE Tony Gonzalez only had two catches.
This just isn’t pretty for the Bucs. Normally, this is where we come up with all sorts of great ATS stats to support our pick, but we don’t need them in this one. Tampa Bay is a joke, and the only thing that is keeping this team from being the tremendous laughing stock of the league is the club that is only a short drive up I-4 and I-95 to the north.
Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pick: Carolina Panthers -6
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.