It’s a matchup of 1-3 teams on Monday Night Football this week. That the Buccaneers are 1-3 isn’t a huge shock but that the defending NFC champion Panthers are is a major surprise considering they lost just twice all of last season. There’s no NFL betting spread on this game yet because it may not be known until Monday if Panthers star QB and reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton will play due to a concussion.
Here’s a Look at the Tampa Bay at Carolina Free Pick, Lines & TV Info
Why Bet on Tampa Bay?
The Bucs lost 27-7 at home to Denver last week. Jameis Winston scrambled 7 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, but had limited success against the Denver defense the rest of the way. In addition to throwing two interceptions, the second-year quarterback was sacked five times while going 17 of 35 for 179 yards. Tampa played without RB Doug Martin (hamstring) and DE Robert Ayers Jr. (ankle) for the second straight week and neither will play this week.
The Bucs also are preparing to be without four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and defensive end Noah Spence when they play the Panthers. McCoy suffered a left calf injury with 12:24 left in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Broncos and did not return to the game. The team also could be without No. 2 running back Charles Sims. Sims took a hit to his right knee on an Aqib Talib tackle in the first quarter vs. Denver and limped off the field, though he was able to return and play the rest of the game.
The Bucs want to re-establish the run game this week. With Martin out since Week 2, and due to the fact that the Buccaneers have surrendered early leads, the team has failed to run the ball successfully. With that, the entire offense has struggled and the Buccaneers have lost three games in a row.
Meanwhile, Winston went on a streak of four straight games without an interception last season after throwing four against the Panthers in the fourth game. Winston already has eight interceptions this season through four games and is the second lowest rated QB in the NFL. Winston has thrown 177 passes in four games this season. At that rate, he’s on pace for 708 throws on the year. Comparatively, just one other NFL quarterback has thrown more than 700 passes in a single season. Winston is 1-11 when throwing more than 32 passes in his 20 NFL starts.
When asked what changed last year after the Carolina loss, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said: “Magic beans, and we’re out right now. We’re searching for those magic beans again. If you’ve got any, send them up here or I’ll send a messenger or I’ll come there myself, because those things are valuable.”
Why Bet on Carolina?
In Sunday’s 48-33 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, a big part of the Panthers’ identity that dates back beyond even last year wasn’t there. The Panthers failed to rush for 100 yards, coming up short of the century mark in a game – regular season or postseason – for the first time in exactly two calendar years. Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) did not play. Cameron Artis-Payne ran for 12 yards on five carries. Fozzy Whittaker had three carries for only six yards but led the Panthers with nine catches for 86 yards.
Newton left the game in the fourth quarter. The team said Newton suffered a concussion after taking a hit from Deion Jones on a successful 2-point run. Newton remains in the concussion protocol. He represents 30.1 percent of this year’s running attack and 100 percent of the team’s rushing touchdowns (2). Stewart represented 40.7 percent of the running game in the opener when he was healthy and 43.3 percent of it last season. Last year, Newton and Stewart represented 71.1 percent of the running game and 84 percent of the rushing touchdowns.
If Newton can’t go, veteran backup Derek Anderson will make his first start since 2014. In two starts that year Anderson beat the Bucs twice. The last time Anderson started a MNF game — in 2010 with the Cardinals — he did not fare well in a 27-6 blowout loss. Anderson had a meltdown in the postgame press conference when asked why he was laughing on the sideline late in a blowout loss.
“We’ve got absolute confidence in Derek,”; Coach Ron Rivera said. “He’s done a great job for us. He’s been very steady since he’s been here the whole time. Guys have a lot of confidence in him, as well. Michael Oher, Carolina’s starting left tackle, has been in the concussion protocol since last Friday when he informed the team he was having headaches. He also was not on the field Thursday. Also out were starting corner James Bradberry (toe), Stewart (hamstring), linebacker Thomas Davis (hamstring) and defensive end Charles Johnson (quad).
It’s not over yet for the Panthers. Since 1990, 117 teams (37.5 percent of the 312 playoff clubs) have advanced to the postseason after starting the season 2-2 or worse. There were six such teams – Houston (1-3), Kansas City (1-3), Minnesota (2-2), Pittsburgh (2-2), Seattle (2-2) and Washington (2-2) – last season, including three division winners (Houston, Minnesota and Washington).
My Free Pick
Favorite is 13-4 ATS in their last 17 meetings.
Road team is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 meetings.
Under is 11-5 in the last 16 meetings in Carolina.
Buccaneers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 meetings.
Carolina will win regardless of Newton playing but wait to see on the NFL spread. If it’s under 7, give the points.