NFL Picks Week 8: Panthers Buccaneers Pick ATS & Predictions
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers travel to Tampa Bay where they’ll be 6.5 point favorites in their first divisional matchup.
By: MaChez, TSZ Expert
Another Thursday, another so-so matchup. This week we have the pleasure of watching the definition-of-disappointment Tampa Bay Bucs face the things-are-finally-going-in-the-right-direction-but-how-long-can-it-actually-last-with-Ron-Rivera-and-Cam-Newton Carolina Panthers. The Bucs, like only the Jaguars, have yet to win a game, have traded away their franchise quarterback, and just lost their star running back to a potentially season-ending torn labrum. The Panthers on the other hand, have won two straight in considerable fashion (albeit against the Vikings and Rams) after starting the season 1-3 and have some people believing that they finally could be competitive.
Due to the two teams’ current situations, Vegas has given Tampa Bay 6.5 points as home underdogs with the total sitting around 40. This will be Carolina’s first divisional matchup but Tampa is already 0-2 inside the NFC South with losses to the Saints and Falcons. While Tampa could already be officially eliminated from the playoffs in just three weeks, the Panthers are only two games out of first with two games left against the first-place New Orleans Saints.
Up until two weeks ago this season had the makings of what one has come to expect from a Ron Rivera led team. After demolishing the Giants 38-0 and coming off a bye, the Panthers looked flat in a 6-22 loss to the Cardinals that put them at 1-3. But then, things started clicking, Cam Newton started completing 80% of his passes, and the Panthers rattled off two wins by an average of 20 points. Those two wins were against some struggling teams, but Carolina can expect much of the same this week.
Although Cam Newton has been playing well, it’s actually the defense that has been winning games for the Panthers. Ranked third in yards allowed per game (302.2) and second in points allowed per game (13.6) the defense is quietly shutting teams down. That being said, they have had the benefit of an easy schedule with their last four matchups coming against teams with a bottom-ten offense. They’ve only given up 7.75 points per game during that stretch, and should have an easy time repeating that performance this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Over the past seven weeks, head coach Greg Schiano has quite easily weaseled his way up to the #1 spot in the “coach most likely to be fired mid-season” competition. And that’s about all he has going for him. Somehow he managed to take a team loaded with talent and turn them all against him to the point that not a single player has publicly come to his support. To the outside eye he seems like the last person you would ever want to work or play for. There’s no way he lasts in to next year, even if they win ten straight.
Along with the terrible coaching, there’s not much else going well for the Bucs right now. In what has to be the most frustrating season ever for Tampa fans, the team is losing by an average of less than eight points and three of their losses have come on last second field goals. The coaching staff is misusing $15 million Darrelle Revis and the entire defense to the point that fans are legitimately offering to gameplan the D. And to top it all off, other teams are hiring hazmat crews to clean the visiting locker room after the Bucs visit to prevent any of their losing spirit from infesting the stadium.
With the Bucs playing at home as underdogs of 6.5 points, they’re very tempting to take since they lose by three or less points half the time. That being said, with the injury to Martin and everything else going wrong in Tampa right now, I see the Panthers barely covering. Cam Newton is playing very efficiently right now and Carolina’s D will keep any chance of offense from Tampa in check. 23-13 Carolina.
Carolina Panthers (-6.5) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS