Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers Pick 9/12/19

by | Sep 10, 2019 | nfl

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
NFL Week 2
Date/Time: Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 8:20 PM EDT
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
TV: NFL Network

Point Spread: TB +6.5/CAR -6.5 (BetNow)
Over/Under Total: 50

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers come into Bank of America Stadium on Sunday to face the Carolina Panthers in NFC South action in week two. Neither team won or covered the spread in week one. Carolina acquitted themselves better, losing at home 30-27 to the defending conference champion Rams. The Bucs, meanwhile, had a halftime lead at home against the 49ers on Sunday, only to lose 31-17 after some huge second-half mistakes in a game that they could have won. Last season, these two division teams split their two meetings, with Carolina winning at home by 14, with Tampa winning at home by 7 points. Which team can right the ship in week two?

More of the Same Issues for Tampa

After far and away leading the league in interceptions last season, the Tampa aerial-game still looked mistake-prone and undermining in week one. Jameis Winston threw three interceptions, two of which were run back for touchdowns—the margin of their defeat. And with one of their scores also being of a defensive nature, the Tampa offense was only able to muster ten points of scoring. In other words, the San Fran defense was able to score more points off of Tampa’s offense than the actual Tampa offense on Sunday. And over the past season-plus, that’s been the problem with the Bucs. You can sometimes make an excellent case for them covering, only to see turnovers and miscues undermine the entire proposition.

The Week One Fallacy

One of the worst things you can do in week two is to take week one results too much to heart. In this business, weird one-week windows are a part of the game. When those one-week windows occur in week one, people can think that this is what the team is. Now, Tampa Bay certainly has issues. It’s starting to look like the prospects of Winston being a franchise QB are dimming with each passing season. He is a turnover machine. Still, with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard, and Ronald Jones, they have some weapons. But with that defective offensive line, Winston is going to be taking to the air a lot, and some better precision is needed moving forward. Jones did have a useful day on the ground with 75 yards on 13 carries. If looking for some silver lining, the Bucs “D” was pretty solid, allowing just 166 yards to Garoppolo and holding their run-game to very little. They will need that on Thursday.

McCaffrey Kills the Bucs

Even in a losing effort, the Panthers saw some things go right against the Rams on Sunday in a close well-contested loss. And going to the wire with the defending NFC champs shows them in a decent light—something they can build on. Cam Newton was able to work well in week one with growing star Christian McCaffrey, who ran for 128 yards and two TDs, while also catching ten balls. Last season in two games against Tampa, McCaffrey went off both on the ground and through the air. Newton also worked well with DJ Moore, TE Greg Olsen, and Curtis Samuel, though this offense goes a lot through McCaffrey.

Defensive Matchups

Carolina’s defense showed some improvement overall on Sunday, holding Jared Goff to 186 yards with just one TD and a pick by James Bradberry. And seeing their secondary take on better form would serve them well against the pass-happy Winston and the Bucs. Maybe Tampa’s Jones can find some success running against the Carolina front, but they don’t have the horses the Rams used to have a good running day against the Panthers. Last season, the Bucs weren’t able to really mount much of a ground game. They may be relegated to throwing the ball, where that Carolina front-seven could have their way with this Tampa O-line, which didn’t look great in week one.

Without the offense giving the game away, the Tampa “D” also showed its teeth on Sunday, which would be a great development for this team and could keep them in the mix here in week two. And let’s not forget they had some big plays too, with Vernon Hargreaves, III. taking an interception back for a TD. Linebacker Shaquil Barrett had a sack and S Jordan Whitehead, and LB Lavonte David were all over the field. Fifth overall pick Devin White looked pretty good, and they could have a fierce linebacker corps with more development. In holding SF to two first-half field goals, they were looking good until the miscues from the other side of the ball undermined their whole performance. There is a chance this Tampa “D” isn’t the same unit of last season, and it will be interesting to see how well they do with the offense not undercutting them. In allowing about 250 yards to the Niners’ offense, they showed there might be more to work with this season.

Carolina Has Edge in Most Areas

For all his issues and criticism, Newton is a far more-reliable NFL quarterback than Winston. McCaffrey is the most-compelling weapon on the field and second-place isn’t really close, with the possible exception of Tampa receiver Mike Evans when he’s at his best. Whereas the Tampa O-line is a liability, the Carolina front could be a top-ten unit by season’s end. Led by Luke Kuechly, the Carolina defense is more-bankable. We’ll see how run-stopper Gerald McCoy looks in his first game against his old team. I don’t question that Bruce Arians will serve this Tampa franchise well, but right now, he doesn’t quite have the horses that will allow his handiwork to resonate as it perhaps might in upcoming seasons.

Lay the Number on the Home Fave

Obviously, there are no slam-dunks in this biz. Tampa without a bunch of mistakes could have looked like a completely different team in week one. And mistakes aren’t something upon which you can rely happening every week. I just think Carolina is a pretty good team and while they couldn’t get the result against the Rams, they will be angling hard to avoid an 0-2 start against Tampa. It’d almost been better for Tampa if the Panthers pulled off the win in week one. I look for a big push from the Panthers this week against a not-quite-ready-for-primetime Bucs squad.

Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Carolina Panthers minus 6.5 points.

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