Carolina Panthers(0-0SU,0-0ATS) vs.Tampa Bay Buccaneers(0-0SU,0-0ATS)
Date and Time:Sunday, September 7th @ 4:25 PM E
Where:Raymond James Stadium
byJeffHochman,Pro Handicapper, JHSportsline.com
Point Spread:Car +1/TB -1
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The Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers hook up in this key NFC South division matchup.This game will stand alone with SF/Dallas as the only two late afternoon games in Week one. Carolina is coming off a 2-2 preseason with a net yards differential of minus -58. The Panthers lost their dress rehearsal game 30-7 to the Patriots as 6-point road dogs. Tampa Bay went 1-3 with a net yards differential of minus -499. They are breaking in a new head coach and Lovie Smith has never really cared about winning in the preseason. I remember when Smith was with the Bears. His team went 0-4 SU and ATS in August than started 5-0 in the regular season. The Buccaneers won their dress rehearsal 27-14 against Buffalo as 3-point road dogs.
The NFC South has the wise guys talking. The picks to win the the division are all over the map. A lot of NFL experts like the Carolina Panthers to win the division as they see a top team from last year, and another year wiser in Ron Rivera’s system. I picked the Saints to win that division, rather handily. For my full season preview please visit my website. I see a lot of red flags with Carolina right now. For starters, Cam Newton is not 100% healthy and even if he is, the repertoire and chemistry displayed between he and his receivers has been less than stellar, to say the least. The Panthers are counting on journeyman Jerricho Cotchery and rookie Kelvin Benjamin at wide receiver to go against a very good secondary. Carolina was ranked 29th in the NFL last season in passing yards. I don’t see that number getting better with the loss of Steve Smith. Today’s NFL favors teams that can pass the ball down the field. With defensive-holding a point of emphases this season, teams can’t take advantage of this by running toss sweeps every series.
On defense, the Panthers are solid with the likes of Luke Kuechly and Charles Johnson reeking havoc on opposing runners. The secondary looks shakier than last year’s team.Tampa Bay has very tall receivers going up against smallish Carolina defensive backs. Keep an eye on this throughout the game.Lovie Smith and Buccaneers should be much improved on offense with the likes of rookie wide receiver Lee Evans and running back Doug Martin returning from injury. The offensive line is much better than people think. They made some key moves and added some veteran beef with Logan Mankins. Mankins brings a lot of savvy to a much needed group. I believe the Bucs offensive line will be a strength of the team this season. If I was doing an offensive line rankings I would have Carolina No. 32. Most experts agree. This unit has struggled all preseason with protection. The Panthers allowed 10 sacks in four games. What’s even worse is that the first unit allowed all but one of those sacks.
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A lot of things went right in a breakout season for the Panthers last season and repeating that success could be a challenge for this group. Ron Rivera is 0-3 SU & ATS in all three of his Week 1 games with Carolina. The favorite is 6-1 ATS in their last seven meetings.Carolina is 8-4 SU & ATS vs. division foes since 2011.
Jeff’sPick to Cover the Point Spread: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1
The Carolina Panthers won and covered both matchups last season. In fact, these two teams have swept the other in every season since 2009. Again, If I would do an offensive line ranking the Panthers would be last. Tampa Bay would be around No. 12. Love Smith is an expert defensive coach and will know how to scheme against a very inexperienced offensive line. New coach’s really want to win at home especially in the division. It’s a point of emphases.