NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Bucs vs. Panthers: Banged-Up Tampa Bay Gives Over/Under Value in Week 16

NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Bucs vs. Panthers: Banged-Up Tampa Bay Gives Over/Under Value in Week 16 article feature image

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady.

  • NFL odds for Bucs vs. Panthers have shifted since our expert wrote the following preview, with the over/under increasing from 44 to 44.5 points at some books.
  • Even with that movement, though, our expert sees value on betting this total in Week 16. Find out how below.

NFL Odds: Bucs vs. Panthers

Bucs Odds-10.5
Panthers Odds+10.5
Time1 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Week 15 went about as bad as it could for the Bucs. Besides losing to the Saints (for the second time this season) they lost Chris Godwin for the year, Leonard Fournette for the rest of the regular season (most likely) and Mike Evans is out for this one. That's behind them though, as they have another chance to clinch the NFC South with a win.

Tampa is still jockeying for playoff position as well, trailing the Packers by only one game for the coveted first-round playoff bye. All the Bucs need to do to stay in the hunt is dispatch the imploding Panthers. After a promising start, it's looking like another lost season for the Panthers, losers of their last four.

Motivation is a major concern for Carolina, as is the quarterback rotation. After a brief moment of competence, Cam Newton has shown why he was in street clothes for most of this season. The current plan is to start Newton, but rotate in Sam Darnold, who was reactivated this week. Will any of it matter against Tampa?

Click the arrow to expand injury reports

Bucs vs. Panthers Injury Report

Bucs Injuries

Find the Bucs' complete injury report here.

Panthers Injuries

Find the Panthers' complete injury report here.

Bucs vs. Panthers Matchup

Bucs OffenseDVOA RankPanthers Defense
Bucs DefenseDVOA RankPanthers Offense
Football Outsiders' DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team's success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.

What Should We Expect From Bucs Offense?

Tampa Bay has the league's best offense by DVOA, which is an efficiency metric and not one based on total production. Tampa Bay throws the ball at the league's highest rate, despite frequent positive game scripts. That's where the Buccaneers' bread is buttered, despite the identical DVOA rankings.

Expectations should be reduced this week, though. Tampa is without receiver Chris Godwin and running back Leonard Fournette, while Mike Evans is out. That means their top receiver could very well be Antonio Brown, who hasn't played since Week 6 due to injuries and a suspension. Tom Brady can do a lot with a little, but this might be a struggle even for him.

Tampa Bay also features the league's seventh-best defense by DVOA, which includes a top-five ranking against the pass. Pairing an explosive offense with a solid pass defense is a genius bit of roster building/defensive scheming. It's OK to be a bit more vulnerable against the run when your opponents are frequently chasing points and unable to #EstablishTheRun.

Despite being easier (on paper) to attack on the ground, the Bucs face the league's highest rate of opponent pass attempts. That's not great for the Panthers, whose strength offensively (if they have one) is on the ground. This is a great matchup for Tampa's defense, regardless of which quarterback(s) it's lined up against.

How Can Panthers Hang With the Champs?

The wheels have officially fallen off of the Panthers offense.

Newton has more interceptions than touchdowns over the past four games — Carolina has averaged fewer than 17 points in that span. That explains why head coach Matt Rhule is kicking around the idea of mixing in Sam Darnold as he returns from injury, but it's not a great sign that Rhule doesn't view Darnold as clearly the superior option to Newton, given the latter's recent performance.

Carolina has the league's 31st-ranked offense by DVOA and the worst passing unit. Ranking 19th in rushing is misleading since most of that production came from Christian McCaffrey, who's out for the rest of the season.

The Panthers do feature a solid defense, though. Carolina has a top-10 unit, largely due to the strength of its pass rush. The Panthers rank eighth is passing defense but second in adjusted sack rate on the year.

Tampa has done a tremendous job of keeping Brady clean this year (the Bucs rank first in adjusted sack rate offensively), but applying pressure to him could be the key for Carolina.

That might be easier this week since Brady will have a harder time getting the ball out of his hands quickly without Godwin and Fournette. Tampa's offensive line stats are more of a testament to Brady's ability to avoid pressure than they are to the play of the line itself.  (Though the line itself is also very good.)

NFL Pick: Bucs vs. Panthers

The expectations for Carolina's offense in this one are, obviously, extraordinarily low. Besides their general ineptitude, the Panthers matchup poorly with Tampa's defense, both in an absolute sense, and in a strengths vs. weaknesses sense. Teams have struggled to run against Tampa all year, and that's Carolina's best hope of moving the ball.

However, there's also some risk that the Bucs offense underperforms in this one. Brady has shown time and again his ability to withstand the loss of a key player, or even two. However, he will be missing his top three receivers (by reception count) in this one. Having a top option who hasn't played since Week 6 (and was unable to practice with the team due to a suspension) isn't ideal, especially with a starting running back who's limited in the pass game.

Therefore, I like the under in this one, especially with Evans not suiting up.

Pick: Under 44 | Bet to: 42.5

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