Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

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Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Carolina Panthers (2-7 SU, 4-5 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date/Time: Sunday, November 18th, 2012, 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.
TV: FOX/DirecTV 705
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: TB -1.5/Car. +1.5
Over/Under Total: 48

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The Carolina Panthers were expected to contend in the NFC South this season, but in a weird role reversal it will actually be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that will be playing for their playoff position when the two division rivals clash at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.

Tampa Bay has won three straight games and has climbed back into the mix in the NFC following last week’s win over the San Diego Chargers, 34-24. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but the Buccaneers used a blocked punt and an interception both returned for touchdowns and eventually pulled away in the second half to drop the Chargers at home in Raymond James Stadium.

With a rookie coach in Greg Schiano, it was the Bucs that were supposed to struggle a little with a new system and new coaching staff. But after another embarrassing defeat last week at the hands of Peyton Manning and Denver, 36-14, the Panthers are on the outside looking in right now and it’s caused a whole lot of job speculation in Charlotte. Cam Newton is struggling in his second year, the Panthers continue to struggle to run the ball despite it being their main weapon (only 52 yards vs. Den. – 2.5 ypc) and following a game where the offense went 0-for-12 on third down, coach Ron Rivera fired the special teams coordinator?


Things are starting to ugly in Carolina for sure, and a bounce back game for Newton and the Panthers might be about the only thing that will keep the hounds at bay.

But that might not happen as easy as it sounds, considering the oddsmakers set the opening point spread with Tampa Bay as 1-point favorites on the road. That number has gone up the hook to minus -1.5 at a majority of offshore sportsbooks and properties in Las Vegas, with large money coming in on the Bucs early in the week, but the line still smells a little fishy because there are several offshore sportsbooks that have gone the other way listing the game as a pick.

The over/under total opened at 48 and has climbed to 48.5 or even 49 at some books, but there are still several at 48 still, so you might be able to move the total a full point in either direction if you shop around for your best number.

These two opened the season against each other in Tampa (a 16-10 Bucs win), and even though it’s been 10 weeks and a lot has changed, a lot has stayed the same when you glean the box score from that game.

Carolina only attempted 13 runs in the first game, choosing right from Day 1 to put almost all the pressure on Newton to carry this team on his shoulders. Newton was good (303 yards, TD on 23-of-33), but his two interceptions were the only turnovers of the game, and the Panthers 2-for-10 on third down and 15 minutes less of time of possession crushed them and are still haunting the Carolina coaching staff three months later.

The problem is that on paper a pass-heavy game plan is what you’d prefer to use against the Bucs, considering they are dead-last in the NFL in pass defense allowing 321 yards a game.

Tampa took a balanced approach, giving rookie Doug Martin 24 carries (95 yards) and letting Josh Freeman toss 24 passes, and with nearly 40 minutes of possession and just 258 total yards on offense the Bucs just grinded it out in the opener. The same recipe is still being used by coach Greg Schiano and his staff, as the Buccaneers have climbed to 11th in the league in rushing the ball with 125 yards a game.

Carolina swept the series last year, including a huge, 48-16, win at home in Bank of America Stadium. But the last three season the team that won the opener has won the second game too (TB won both in 2010, Car. Both in 2009), so if the trend continues it will make a lot of Buccaneers fans happy come Sunday afternoon.

The Bucs-Panthers series has been a great one for the chalk in recent years too, since the favorite has enjoyed an 8-2 ATS record in their last 10 head-to-head meetings. However, historically the Panthers have been a very good wager at home in the series (8-3 ATS in L11 in Charlotte) and the Bucs have struggled inside the division going just 1-5 ATS in their last six games against an NFC South rival.

Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This one is looking more and more like a trap. Almost 70 percent of the money coming in on this game so far has been on Tampa, yet the line has only moved the hook or even dropped a point at a few sportsbooks? This is the NFL and teams are never as bad as they appear, or as good as they appear. Carolina finds a way to get back on track with a win at home as a dog this week. I’m taking Carolina plus the 1.5 points.

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