Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers +5.5 Total: 40
Thursday, October 24th, 2013 TV: NFL Network 8:25 EDT
Both of these NFC South franchises came into the season with high expectations despite their rather dismal campaigns last year. Carolina heads to Tampa looking to surge above .500 while the Buccaneers are still looking for their first win.
After dropping their first two games, the Panthers have gone 3-1 in four games and have downright manhandling their recent opponents. In back-to-back victories against St. Louis and Minnesota, Carolina outscored opponents 65-25 in the past two games. St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford went down with an injury late, but the game was already never in doubt for the Panthers. They notched four sacks and an early pick six to take a 7-0 lead and never relinquished it.
Carolina is almost fully healthy coming into this game despite the short week. They suffered no setbacks, and though running back Jonathan Stewart is targeting a Week 9 return, the run game has been fantastic in his absence. Wide receiver Brandon LaFell was limited in practice this week but is expected to play in Thursday’s contest.
Still winless after a 31-23 loss to Atlanta last week, things continued to get worse for the Buccaneers this season. Running back Doug Martin suffered what some have called a season ending shoulder injury and though Martin is optimistic at returning this season – according to reports chances seem slim. He is out this week and likely Week 9, at minimum. Rookie Mike James will take the bell-cow role in this offense.
Tampa Bay will continue to go with rookie Mike Glennon at quarterback after releasing Josh Freeman several weeks ago. Glennon has been more than serviceable in the role and impressed not only his coaches but those around the league. He has an almost unhealthy obsession targeting Vincent Jackson. He has targeted the All-Pro wide out 36 times in the past two games, connecting with “V-Jack” for 252 yards and two touchdowns.
The game opened at Carolina -7 but has come down to -5.5 at most shops while some have the game at -6. The total has gone up a full point from the opening number of 39.
While the Panthers have been playing some dominant football as of late, their schedule has been quite easy. While St. Louis was 3-3 heading into the game against Carolina last week – their other two wins – came against the New York Giants, and Minnesota Vikings, two teams have a combined 2-11 record.
Their ability to win on the road, and against tough rush defenses has not been proven yet. Mike Glennon has looked miles ahead of Josh Freeman in just four career games. The Panthers secondary is nothing special and Vincent Jackson will be a matchup problem.
This looks like an excellent spot for the Buccaneers to catch a team off guard and get their first win. I have no doubts that rookie running back Mike James can do an admirable job in the Doug Martin role. The under has some value in this game, as well. There should be loads of running, and both teams have underrated defenses. This game won’t be a blowout like most are expecting. I’m expecting this game to come down to a field goal either way.
I like the Buccaneers +5.5 and Under 40 with Bovada.lv.