Two NFC South rivals go head to head Sunday when the Panthers take on the Bucs. The Panthers lead the all time series 23-13, and have won 3 straight matchups head to head against the Bucs.
The Panthers are coming off a costly 30-27 loss to the Seahawks. In week 10, they were blown out by the Steelers 52-21, and lost 20-19 to the Lions in week 11.
Tampa Bay beat the 49ers last week, 27-9, to give them their 4th win of the year. In week 10, they lost 16-3 to the Redskins, and lost 38-35 to the Giants in week 11.
Bovada has the Panthers as 3.5 point favourites with an O/U of 54.5.
The Panthers are on a bit of a slide recently, losing 3 straight. Cam Newton has been solid, but not great in that span, but has been impactful throughout the season. Newton has thrown for 2701 yards, 22 TDs, and 7 INTs while completing 69.6% of his passes and averaging 7.5 YPA. D.J. Moore has erupted to really become the #1 threat in the pass game, totaling 38 catches for 565 yards and 2 TDs, while strong>Devin Funchess has been dealing with injury but still has a line of 41/516/3. Christian McCaffrey has been their most lethal weapon, catching 71 balls for 610 yards and 5 TDs, as well as rushing 153 times for 757 yards and 5 TDs. Cam Newton is also a threat in the run game, rushing 86 times for 408 yards and 4 TDs.
The Panthers are below average in scoring defense, allowing 25.6 PPG. They are 22nd in passing defense, allowing 260.1 yards per game and 25 TDs through the air, and are near the bottom of the league in sacks with 25. Their run defense is top 10, allowing just 96.4 yards per game and 8 TDs.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
QB Cam Newton (shoulder) – questionable, CB Donte Jackson (quad) – questionable, WR Devin Funchess (back) – questionable, DT Kawann Short (calf) – questionable
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No matter who is at quarterback, this Tampa Bay offense has been explosive and productive. It looks like the Bucs are sticking with Jameis Winston at quarterback, and he has mostly been up and down this year. Winston has thrown for 1692 yards, 10 TDs, and 11 INTs while completing 67.8% of his passes and averaging 8.4 YPA. The Bucs have an astounding 5 receivers with 500+ receiving yards, although O.J. Howard is done for the year. Mike Evans (62/1073/5), DeSean Jackson (40/750/4), Chris Godwin (44/575/4), and Adam Humphries (46/545/4) all provide dynamic threats across the field. Their run game has really struggled for the most part, with Peyton Barber leading the team with 153 rushes for 590 yards and 3 TDs.
The Bucs defense is 2nd to last in scoring, allowing 30.7 PPG. Their pass defense is in the bottom quarter of the league, allowing 274.3 PPG and 26 TDs through the air, and are average in sacks with 29. Their run defense is just below average, allowing 116.7 yards per game and 14 TDs.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
CB Carlton Davis (knee) – questionable, WR DeSean Jackson (thumb) – questionable, DT Gerald McCoy (ankle) – questionable, LB Lavonte David (knee) – questionable
The Tampa Bay defense has been bad, and has an argument for being the worst in the league. Although the Panthers have dropped 3 straight, their offense is still dynamic and versatile enough to stress defenses vertically and horizontally and should give Tampa Bay fits. Expect a huge game from McCaffrey, as he should gash the Bucs run defense and no one on the Bucs defense can contend with him in the pass game. The Panthers will also be looking D.J. Moore’s way a lot, and his route running/ YAC skills make him lethal to the Bucs lackluster secondary.
The Buccaneers offense has put up yards in bunches, but struggle to get the ball in the endzone. There is no reason that shouldn’t continue this week as the Panthers D is not worldbeating and their coverage is really average outside of Donte Jackson. The Bucs will be one dimensional as they have been all year, but the Panthers should find a way to get a cheap turnover or 2 and seal this game. Lets go with the Panthers to cover here and get back on track to compete in the NFC playoffs.
Final Pick: Panthers (-3.5)