Buccaneers vs Panthers Prediction, Pick | NFL Week 18 Odds

Buccaneers vs Panthers Prediction, Pick | NFL Week 18 Odds article feature image

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Buccaneers vs Panthers Prediction, Pick | NFL Week 18 Odds

Sunday, Jan. 7
1:00 p.m. ET
Pick: Buccaneers -4 (Play to -5.5)

My Buccaneers vs Panthers prediction & pick is on the spread, which has Tampa Bay installed as a four-point favorite with an over/under of 36.5 points total.

The Bucs have been one of the biggest surprises in football this season. Tampa Bay dropped a stinker against the Saints last week, but its path to the postseason remains the same in NFL Week 18: win and they're NFC South champs. On paper, the Bucs have the easiest matchup possible against the Panthers, who have locked up the worst record in the league.

Let's break down this crucial NFC south clash and get to my Buccaneers vs Panthers pick.

Buccaneers vs Panthers Prediction, Pick

Pick: Buccaneers -4 (-110)

Buccaneers vs Panthers Odds

Sunday, Jan 7
1 p.m. ET
Buccaneers Odds
-110o / -110u
Panthers Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Buccaneers vs. Panthers Preview

The Bucs had covered three straight games, with three outright victories, before stumbling last week and allowing the Saints to get back in the divisional race.Tampa should put forth a focused effort in order to avoid letting the NFC South slip away.

The Bucs should be able to hit on all cylinders offensively given their matchup with the Panthers defense. Don’t let Carolina's ranking of seventh in yards per play allowed fool you. That metric may seem encouraging, but it can easily be explained when you factor in that the Panthers have faced the heaviest rush rate in the NFL.

Teams consistently jump on them early in games and are content with wearing them down in the latter part of the contest with the running game. The Panthers are 31st in yards per rush allowed after contact, and it is clear their tackling suffers with how much their defense has to remain on the field. No team has allowed more rushing scores than the Panthers.

Carolina is 26th overall in defensive DVOA and the Bucs should be able to move the ball on them at will. Baker Mayfield missed some throws in their first meeting back in Week 13, causing him to post his lowest completion percentage of the season. Regardless of only converting 40% of their third downs, the Bucs were able to stay on schedule by being efficient on the ground.

The Bucs specifically match up well with the Panthers up front as Carolina surrenders a 10% higher success rate defending man/gap concepts in the running game, according to Fantasy Points. Tampa Bay averages greater than 0.6 yards per carry more per attempt in its own rushing attack when using man blocking concepts over zone concepts.

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Buccaneers vs. Panthers Picks | FanDuel

Buccaneers -4

Panthers +4

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The Panthers offense has been completely inept. This is a team that ranks 28th in adjusted line yards created in the running game and 30th in adjusted sack rate when in pass protection.

Bryce Young has been pressured on 39.9% of dropbacks and sacked 59 times, behind only Sam Howell (61). Young has been sacked on 25.1% of plays in which he has been pressured, which is the worst rate of any quarterback that's faced 120 or more pressures. He is simply not seeing the field well enough to avoid getting sacked.

Young is also last in the league in off-target throw percentage (20%) out of all passers who have played in 10 games. Tampa Bay will test the Panthers' protection and look to create havoc. The Bucs’ 42% blitz rate is the league’s third-highest mark.

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Buccaneers vs. Panthers Pick & Prediction

Carolina has scored a league-worst 6.5 points per game in the first half of games. That is unlikely to change for the worst offense in the NFL on a yards per play basis. The Panthers can't afford to find themselves playing from behind as it leads to more pressure on Young and, in turn, more opportunities for the Bucs defense to create turnovers.

The Panthers are coming off a shutout loss and they are ready to get this season over with, while their opponent is looking to cement its position as the league’s biggest surprise of 2023.

Lay the points with the future NFC South champs.

Pick: Buccaneers -4 (Bet to -5.5)

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