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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers Point Spread - Pick

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

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

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

In week two action from the NFC South, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to Charlotte to battle the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. Neither team had a good time of it on Sunday, with the Bucs blowing a halftime lead and making a lot of big mistakes in losing by two TDs to the Niners. The Panthers, meanwhile, lost at home, but looked at least half-decent against the Rams in a three point defeat, 30-27, to the conference champions. Last season, these divisional rivals split their two games, each winning at home.

There were a lot of alarming signs with the Bucs on Sunday. The fact of the matter is that Jameis Winston will likely not be the answer the Bucs hoped he would be. At the end of his rookie contract, he remains a menace to his team in the turnover department. On Sunday, he squandered a good showing from the defense with three picks, two of which were returned for touchdowns. With a defensive TD of their own, that means the Bucs got fewer points from their offense than the opposing defense did. And that's the rub with the Bucs—sometimes you can make a nice case for them winning or covering the spread, only to see an error-prone aerial attack undermine the whole effort.

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It's important for the purposes of both teams to not read too much into week one results. They're all we have to go on in a young season, but it's in effect a one-game window. And often times, they paint too stark of an image and lead us astray in week two and even ensuing weeks. Tampa does have a lot of aerial weapons and they should get more out of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and others. Ronald Jones had a good day on the ground, with 75 yards on 13 carries. And on defense, they held their own by allowing 166 yards to Jimmy Garoppolo, while also keeping the SF run-game in check. They hope for more of that looking ahead.

The Panthers came up short against the Rams, but held their own in a well-contested game, making a late-push for the win, which came up short. Carolina looks for another big game here from Christian McCaffrey, who has far and away become Cam Newton's main weapon. He caught ten balls on Sunday against the Rams, adding 128 yards on the ground with two scores. In both of his games against Tampa last season, he enjoyed big performances on the ground and through the air and stands out as a compelling weapon in this matchup. Newton found success on Sunday working with DJ Moore, Greg Olsen, and Curtis Samuel. But look for Newton to be looking for McCaffrey a lot and why not?

Panthers backers look for the Carolina "D" to do more this season after an inconsistent 2018 season. And while they allowed 30 points at home, it was the Rams. They did well in holding Goff to 186 yards, with James Bradberry getting an interception. Luke Kuechly looks to have hit the ground running. And Tampa just won't be able to reproduce the menace the Rams did last week. The Bucs will look to run against this Carolina defense, not something they're very adept at doing typically and certainly not against the Panthers. And the Carolina front will be looking to take advantage of a Tampa O-line that didn't shine in week one.

But the Tampa defense is an X-factor in this game. And that alone would be a massive development for this team. They flexed some big-play ability on Sunday, with corner Vernon Hargreaves, III. taking a pick back for a TD. Linebacker could be a strength of the team, with rookie Devin White, Shaquil Barrett and Lavonte David all having good games on Sunday. They really looked good in the first half, holding the Niners' offense to a pair of first-half field goals. But as the offense went, so did the overall team effort and they were nipped at the wire. Still, giving up just over 250 yards of total offense, getting to the QB somewhat regularly, and making big plays all stand as good signs for this side of the ball.

It's just not an easy proposition for the Bucs. Bruce Arians will get this team pointed in the right direction at some point, but it's going to take time. They will be facing a major pain in their sides in McCaffrey, as Carolina works behind an offensive line that is on the upswing. Their defense is more-reliable than Tampa's despite some positive week one signs from the Bucs. With some things lining up right, this could be closer to the Panthers' defense we saw several years ago. At home and looking to avoid an 0-2 start, the Panthers are a tough matchup for the Bucs this week.

When a team makes a lot of mistakes and loses a game, especially in week one, it could lead to some being misled. Mistakes don't always happen and they can be cleaned up. But it's really a big part of the downside of taking the Bucs in spots like this. I perceive the Panthers as simply being the better team and more firmly on the right track. I sense they will be going all-out to not the start the season with a pair of defeats. And it will be enough to get the home-cover against the Bucs. I'll take the Panthers.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Carolina Panthers minus 6.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on games at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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