Buccaneers-Panthers Betting Preview: The Over/Under Play to Know
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Luke Kuechly
Betting odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers
- Spread: Panthers -6
- Over/Under: 55
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: FOX
>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Betting market: This game went from -6.5 to -7 in the early going, but bettors are buying into the FitzMagic. At the time of writing, the Bucs are getting 43% of bets, but 53% of dollars, helping them move back down from +7 to the current number of +6 (see live betting data here). —Mark Gallant
Referee data: Over the past decade, official Tony Corrente has been the head referee in more than 150 regular-season games. In those games, the under is 89-61-2 (59.3%, +22.7 units), making Corrente the most-profitable official to the under in that span.
Corrente has officiated five games involving Cam Newton. The under is 4-1. — Evan Abrams
Trends to know: This one runs counter to my Corrente trend above, but it’s worth mentioning: Sunday will mark be Newton’s 10th NFL game with an over/under of 50 or higher. The over is 7-2 (+4.6 units) in those games, zooming past the total by a whopping 9.6 points per game. — Abrams
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been good as an underdog this season. In Week 1, he beat the Saints outright as a 10-point dog in the Superdome. In Week 2, he took down the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles.
Fitzpatrick is 2-1 straight up and against the spread as a pooch this season (lost to the Bears). Interestingly, FitzMagic has actually struggled as an underdog throughout his career.
He is 29-42-5 ATS (40.8%) as an underdog, losing bettors 14.4 units since his first career start back in 2005, making him the least-profitable quarterback as a dog in the NFL over that span. — Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Carolina’s passing game vs. Tampa Bay’s pass defense
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been a revelation for Newton, who has thrown multiple touchdown passes in every game since Week 2 and is on pace to post the highest completion rate (66.4%), lowest interception rate (1.7%) and lowest sack rate (4.0%) of his career.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s defense is on its second coordinator of the season and enters Week 9 ranked last in completion rate allowed (73.7%) and interceptions (one), and tied for 25th in sacks (16). — Chris Raybon
Which team is healthier? Panthers
The Buccaneers are tentatively expected to have wide receiver Mike Evans (knee) and left tackle Demar Dotson (knee, shoulder), but the outlook for their defensive line remains bleak.
Vinny Curry (ankle), Gerald McCoy (calf) and Jason Pierre-Paul (ribs, foot) all failed to get in a full practice on Wednesday or Thursday.
Running back Peyton Barber (ankle) is fine and expected to work as the featured back with Ronald Jones (hamstring) reportedly expected to miss multiple weeks.
The only Panthers starter at risk of missing the game is wide receiver Torrey Smith (knee). Smith’s absence would once again elevate electric rookie D.J. Moore into a featured role.
DFS edge: Over the first three seasons of Devin Funchess’ career, the receiver’s fantasy production was largely tied to whether Greg Olsen was healthy. But the Panthers’ No. 1 wide receiver has managed to buck this trend through eight weeks in 2018.
Overall, Funchess averaged 14.2 PPR points per game without Olsen compared to 7.0 with from 2015-17, but he’s averaged 13.6 without and 12.4 with the tight end active in 2018.
The bigger question is whether Moore, an intriguing rookie, will continue to work as the Robin to Funchess’ Batman.
Smith (knee) was sidelined during Moore’s Week 8 breakout performance, although the electric first-round pick was expected to take on a larger role as the season progressed, anyway.
The Panthers’ whole passing game is in play this week vs. a Buccaneers defense that ranks dead last in both overall and pass DVOA. Only the Saints have allowed more DraftKings points per game to opposing wide receiver units. — Ian Hartitz
Bet to watch: Over 55
The Bucs’ magnificent combination of high-scoring offense (28.7 points per game) and sieve-like defense (33.3 points per game allowed) has spurred an NFL-high six games to the over.
For the season, Bucs’ games have averaged 62.0 points, which is 10.4 points per game more than the mean over/under. The offense has been especially impressive with Fitzpatrick — he leads the league with 11.0 adjusted yards per attempt — and with his return to the starting lineup, the Bucs have a real chance to put up 30-plus points on their division rivals.
And on defense, the Bucs are not only bad, but they’re also injured. Middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (knee, injured reserve) is out, as is backup middle linebacker Jack Cichy (ankle). Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (shoulder, IR) will also miss Sunday’s game, and slot corner M.J. Stewart (leg) seems unlikely to play, given that he exited last week early and has yet to practice this week.
McCoy and Curry both missed Weeks 7-8. Curry got in a limited practice on Thursday, so he might suit up, but McCoy missed practice after getting in a limited session on Wednesday. McCoy’s mid-week downgrade suggests that he will miss Week 9.
On top of that, Pierre-Paul (ribs, foot) hasn’t practiced at all this week. The Bucs could legitimately be without half of their defensive starters. The Panthers should have no problem at all putting up points.
I’d be comfortable betting this up to 58. — Matthew Freedman
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.