Bucs vs. Panthers Betting Predictions & Preview: Trust Carolina as Favorites?

Bucs vs. Panthers Betting Predictions & Preview: Trust Carolina as Favorites? article feature image
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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jameis Winston, Cam Newton

Buccaneers at Panthers Betting Odds

  • Odds: Panthers -7
  • Total: 49
  • Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: NFL Network

Odds above as of Wednesday evening and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can exclusively bet every NFL spread this season at reduced juice (-105).

The Panthers host the Buccaneers in an NFC South showdown on Thursday Night Football. Both teams are coming off home losses, but Jameis Winston and Co. looked particularly bad in a 31-17 defeat to the 49ers.

Still, are the Bucs being undervalued?

Our experts break this primetime matchup down from every angle, complete with Sean Koerner’s projected odds and our staff’s favorite picks.

Thursday Night Football Injury Report

Outside of the Bucs placing FS Justin Evans (Achilles) on injured reserve, they check in as the healthier team in this matchup.

The most noteworthy injury on the Panthers is TE Greg Olsen, who is dealing with a back injury and has yet to practice as of Wednesday. Olsen has stated he “plans” to suit up, but on a short week, it’ll make it tougher for the veteran. And the absences from practice isn’t the best sign.

If Olsen is ruled out, Ian Thomas becomes an intriguing TE streaming option in fantasy if you’re in a bind. Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of Wednesday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Panthers -6.5
  • Projected Total: 47

Cam Newton and Winston got off to a shaky start last week.

For the first time in his career, Newton ended with negative rushing yards (-2) and still appears to be adjusting to a new throwing motion as he’s gone under the knife for his throwing shoulder in back-to-back offseasons now. Winston, meanwhile, threw for three picks against the 49ers in what has been one of the most highly criticized Week 1 performances.

Naturally, the public appears to be willing to back the Panthers enough to move the -6.5 opener up to a key number at -7.

Watch how the market reacts now with more than 80% of the bets on the home team as of writing (find live public betting data here). If it gets bet back down to 6.5, it means the sharps are on Tampa Bay. While I’d agree with a 6.5-point spread here, the true value for a matchup featuring two volatile quarterbacks could be on the moneyline in the +240 to +260 range.

I locked in the under 51 at -115 as soon as lines opened. I had the total pegged about four points too high, and 51 is what I would consider a “key” number for an over/under. There’s still some value on the under, but keep in mind that 49-50 in a pretty uncommon range for a total to land.

It might be best to wait and see if late public money can push it back up over 50 before kickoff. Sean Koerner

Biggest Mismatch

Christian McCaffrey vs. Tampa Bay’s Run Defense

While the Buccaneers were able to contain the San Francisco backfield in their Week 1 loss, they face a significant running back talent increase in Carolina.

McCaffrey took every single running back carry in the Panthers’ 30-27 season-opening loss. He ran 19 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns, while catching 10-of-11 targets for 81 yards. He is the center of the Carolina offensive attack.

Last season, the Buccaneers ranked 30th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA while also finishing tied for most receiving touchdowns allowed to running backs (six).

McCaffrey has dominated the Buccaneers in their four meetings, averaging 5.3 receptions, 107 total yards, 0.75 touchdowns and 20.8 PPR fantasy points per game. In last year’s home game against Tampa Bay, he totaled five receptions, 157 total yards and two touchdowns. Also, running backs are typically the most efficient plays on Thursday nights, due to short rest for the defensive players.

Christian McCaffrey
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Christian McCaffrey

With Carolina coming off a loss and playing at home on a Thursday night, the Buccaneers’ best chance to win is to outscore the Panthers, because stopping McCaffrey in either the run or pass game seems highly unlikely. Mike Randle

Expert Picks

John Ewing: Buccaneers +7

Winston had a rough start to the season. He went 20-for-36 for 195 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Two of the picks were returned for touchdowns as the Buccaneers lost 31-17 to the 49ers.

The market is down on Winston & Co. after one bad outing. Only 18% of spread tickets are on Tampa +7. The most profitable time to bet against the public is early in the season. Since 2003, teams getting less than 50% of bets have gone 238-190-10 (56%) against the spread in Weeks 1-3.

The Action Network NFL simulations project the Panthers to win by 5.4 points on average — suggesting the line is inflated based on last week’s poor performance.

Winston didn’t play well in Week 1 but wide receiver Mike Evans was under the weather and Winston had two Cameron Brate touchdowns called back. With a healthy supporting cast and better luck, Winston should be able to keep this game competitive.

Check out more of our experts’ favorite bets for Bucs-Panthers here.

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