Panthers vs. Bucs Betting Picks & Odds: Will Carolina Stay Hot?

Panthers vs. Bucs Betting Picks & Odds: Will Carolina Stay Hot? article feature image

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Christian McCaffrey

  • The betting odds for Sunday morning's Panthers-Buccaneers game in London opened with a spread of Carolina -1 and an over/under of 46.5.
  • The updated odds aren't all too dissimilar: Panthers -2 and over/under 46.5.
  • Our experts analyze the matchup and their favorite betting picks for the Week 6 London game.

Panthers vs. Buccaneers Betting Picks & Odds

  • Odds: Panthers -2
  • Over/Under: 46.5
  • Kickoff: 9:30 a.m. ET
  • TV Channel: NFL Network

Odds as of Sunday morning and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

The Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers take their NFC South rivalry across the pond for the first early London game of the season.

The Buccaneers took the first meeting, with a 20-14 win on Thursday Night Football over a clearly hampered Cam Newton in Week 2. Now the Panthers trot out Kyle Allen for his fourth straight start in Newton’s absence. Can they even the season series and cover as small neutral-field favorites?

Our staff breaks this game down from every angle, including a comparison to Sean Koerner’s projected odds and staff pick against the spread.

Panthers-Buccaneers Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Buccaneers

The Buccaneers are in pretty good shape heading into this game. Chris Godwin (hip) and Ndamukong Suh (knee) missed practice on Wednesday but returned to full practice on Thursday, so both should be ready to roll for this divisional matchup.

Christian McCaffrey (back) gave us a scare after he missed some of last week’s game and then practice on Wednesday, but fear not — he returned to full practice on Thursday.

More good news for the Panthers: They should get CB Donte Jackson (groin) back after he missed the past few weeks. However, the Panthers could be down two starting offensive lineman with both Trai Turner (ankle) and Greg Little (concussion) failing to practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday will be a big indicator of their health for Week 6. Justin Bailey

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

Biggest Mismatch

WR Chris Godwin vs. Slot CB Ross Cockrell

As noted in my Week 6 WR/CB matchups column, I expect that Mike Evans will be shadowed on the outside by James Bradberry, who has had success against Evans previously.

I also expect the Panthers to get back outside corner Donte Jackson (groin), who practiced in full on Wednesday after missing Weeks 4-5, and his return will bump Cockrell back into the slot, where he’ll face emerging superstar, Godwin.

Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chris Godwin

Cockrell’s not a bad player, but he’s played most of his career on the outside, and the few times he’s ventured into the slot, it hasn’t gone well.

In 2015, he played one game in the slot for the Steelers: He gave up a 9-125-1 receiving line on 10 targets. For the rest of that season and all through the following year, the Steelers never again used him as the primary slot defender.

In 2017, the Giants used him as their primary slot corner for a four-game stretch. Over that span, he allowed a 73.7% catch rate, and in the final game he gave up a 5-75-1 receiving line on seven targets. After that, the Giants moved him outside and never back into the slot.

Cockrell missed all of last season with an injury, but when he returned to a full-time role in Week 3, the Panthers used him in the slot, where he allowed six receptions on eight targets. He filled in on the outside for the injured Jackson in Weeks 4 and 5, but now Cockrell is likely to return to the slot for a one-on-one matchup with Godwin.

It almost seems unfair to highlight the extent of Godwin’s superiority. He’s No. 3 in the NFL with 511 yards receiving, No. 5 with 183 yards after the catch and No. 8 with 526 air yards. He’s the only player in the league with three receiving games of 120-plus yards this season.

Cockrell will have a difficult time slowing down Godwin, especially on a London field known for sloppy, defense-inhibiting conditions. Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Panthers -1.5
  • Projected Total: 48.5

The Buccaneers opened as slight 1-point favorites, but to no one’s surprise, the line quickly moved in favor of the Panthers up to the 2-2.5 range — much more closer to where I pegged this line to settle.

Looking beyond my power ratings, there could be even more value on the Panthers. The Buccaneers are now three weeks into their massive road trip; they don’t play in Tampa Bay again until Week 10. They started in LA, then New Orleans and now . they’re overseas in London. This type of travel is going to catch up with them as soon as this week.

Additionally, Carolina is very much a run funnel defense. The Panthers have limited Jared Goff, Kyler Murray and Deshaun Watson to sub-200 passing yards and even limited Jameis Winston to 208 in Week 2. Despite being more vulnerable to opposing rush offenses, that really isn’t the Bucs’ strength, which limits their ability to take advantage of this matchup.

On the other side of the ball, the Bucs are very much a pass funnel defense.

Vernon Hargreaves-Christian McCaffrey
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Vernon Hargreaves, Christian McCaffrey

The Panthers are more equipped to attack that weakness, and instead of running McCaffrey into the teeth of the strong Tampa Bay run defense, they can use him more in the passing game. They failed to do this in Week 2 and likely won’t repeat that same mistake here.

I’d lean on Panthers at anything sub-3. Sean Koerner

Expert Picks

John Ewing: Bucs +2.5

The Panthers have won three in a row, and McCaffrey has been a big part of their success. Carolina’s stud running back leads the league in rushing (587 yards) and is 10-1 to win the MVP.

The Panthers have played well lately, but are we sure they’re good?

Despite McCaffrey’s heroics, their offense ranks 21st in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA. A win is a win, but during their hot streak, one victory came over the Cardinals and the other two were decided by seven or fewer points.

More than 60% of bets are on Carolina as of writing (see live public betting data here), but history says the Bucs have value. Since 2003, it’s been profitable to bet against teams with a winning record early in the season that didn’t make the playoffs the year before, like the Panthers.

Given Koerner’s 1.5-point projection, it’s fair to say this line is inflated. I’d bet the Buccaneers at any plus-money odds.

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