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Thursday Night Betting Preview – Buccaneers vs. Panthers

By Michael Wynn
| September 10, 2019

The NFL season is officially in full swing. While some are still downloading everything that unfolded during Week 1, I’m already looking ahead toward the betting opportunities in Week 2. Feel free to peek at the early NFL Week 2 lines, but take your time reading through this Thursday Night Football betting preview.

The Buccaneers and the Panthers clash in Charlotte on TNF, and both teams are desperately seeking a win. Starting 0-2 is a big hole that neither Tampa Bay nor Carolina is interested in having to climb out of, so let’s take a look at what is likely to pan out on Thursday evening.

I’ll start with the odds before moving on to my Buccaneers vs. Panthers predictions.

Tampa Bay vs. Carolina Odds

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6.5) -110
Carolina Panthers (-6.5) -110
Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Win +245
Carolina Panthers to Win -290
Over 50 -108
Under 50 -112

The Buccaneers lost by two touchdowns at home to a San Francisco squad that witnessed Kwon Alexander get ejected before the first quarter was even over. Jameis Winston was picked off three times and completed just 55.5% of his passes on Sunday, plus the defense failed to get serious pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo.

Something needs to change in a hurry for Bruce Arians, or the Bucs could get blown out at Bank of America Stadium.

On the flip side, Carolina played the defending NFC Champs tough as nails, falling to the Rams 30-27 in a game where Christian McCaffrey went absolutely bonkers. The third-year RB tallied 209 yards from scrimmage and scored a pair of touchdowns, as well as hauled in 10 balls as Cam Newton’s favorite target.

The Panthers actually held LA to just 183 passing yards, but a trio of turnovers (two from Newton) is what ultimately did them in.

How the Buccaneers Win

  • Limit turnovers
  • Hit a big play or two
  • Generate pressure on the quarterback

First and foremost, they must take better care of the football. Going into a hostile environment on Thursday and expecting to emerge with a victory is only realistic if Jameis Winston takes pride in his decision-making and stops throwing the ball to the other team.

Bruce Arians will have to continue to integrate Ronald Jones into the game plan, as it’s clear that Jones is the most versatile running back on the Buccaneers roster.

Mike Evans was a virtual “no-show” against the 49ers, so a bounce-back performance most definitely could be in store. The Buccs star receiver caught just two balls for 28 yards versus a squad that has question marks surrounding their secondary.

Without Evans getting loose down the sidelines, I’m just not sure Tampa Bay will create enough opportunities to punch the ball across the goal line. Perhaps a speedster like Chris Godwin can help fill in, but one of the wideouts will need to step up for offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

On the defensive side of the ball, Tampa Bay has to adapt quicker and be more disciplined in the middle level. They also need to do a better job at getting their hands on the quarterback. Otherwise, Cam Newton will have a field day.

During their Week 1 loss against San Fran, the Buccs D hit Jimmy Garoppolo just once the entire afternoon.

How the Panthers Win

  • Continue to feed Christian McCaffrey the football
  • Get off the field on third down
  • Efficient play from Cam Newton

If there is a running back in the National Football League who is more well-rounded and proficient than Christian McCaffrey, you’ll have to point him out to me. The Panthers’ “Mr. Do Everything” balled out in Sunday’s loss versus the Rams, and I see few scenarios of him not having a huge game Thursday night versus Tampa Bay.

Draining the energy of the Buccs defenders would be a good strategy to employ, which is why I fully anticipate Ron Rivera force-feeding Christian McCaffrey the rock. Considering Christian touched the ball 29 times in Week 1, 30+ touches are a realistic expectation.

Even though the Panthers held Jared Goff and the explosive Rams offense to zero passing plays of 25 or more yards, Carolina will have to do a better job at getting off the field on key third downs. Los Angeles converted over 50% of their third downs, which is a big reason why the Panthers are sitting at 0-1 instead of 1-0.

Last but not least, Cam Newton simply needs to play better and maintain control of the offense. To put it plainly, the Panthers quarterback averages 0.47 interceptions in the games Carolina has won over the course of his career. Conversely, Cam has thrown 75 picks in 55 career losses — or an average of 1.36 picks per contest.

Buccaneers vs. Panthers Pick

Part of me thinks that Carolina will come out guns blazing and run up the score early, but Bruce Arians is a better coach than to let something like that happen. This is a divisional matchup between two teams who are eerily familiar with one another, not to mention, the defenses are where the biggest improvements were made.

I’m not entirely convinced that Devin White and Ndamukong Suh will be able to shut down Carolina’s offense, but they should be able to at least slow them down.

That, coupled with Luke Kuechly and company wreaking havoc and getting in the face of Jameis Winston, has me leaning toward thinking we could see another sloppy Thursday Night Football game.

Hopefully, it won’t be quite as mundane as the one between Chicago and Green Bay, but don’t expect a high-scoring affair.

Even though the total was 49.5 at almost every top-rated NFL betting site I examined, I was able to locate “50” at BetOnline.ag. I wasted no time locking the under in, and I suggest you do the same.

Pick
  • Under 50
    -112

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