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The 6-9 Carolina Panthers have yet to be eliminated from the playoffs, need a win
The TB Bucs have not covered in their last 8 games at Raymond James Stadium.
Watch Panthers vs Buccaneers live on Sun, January 1, 2023, at 1:00 PM ET on FOX
POINT SPREAD: Carolina Panthers +3 (-115) at BetMGM
POINTS TOTAL: Under 39.5 (-110) at BetRivers
SPECIAL – First Drive Result: Punt (-145) at FanDuel
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This NFL Week 17 NFC South matchup is critical to each team’s playoff chances as the 6-9 Carolina Panthers play the 7-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a game to help decide who the winner of the NFC South will be, arguably the weakest division in the NFL but despite that GOAT QB Tom Brady hopes to turn his shaky season into yet another successful playoff appearance.
The Carolina Panthers are coming off a Week 16 win and interim HC Steve Wilks should have QB Sam Darnold starting under center, with the underdogs having won each of the Panthers' last four games so we expect them to at least cover in this one, though it is a tough ask at Raymond James Stadium where the pirate ship cannons remind visitors of their every mistake.
The Tampa Bay Bucs have failed to cover the spread in each of their last eight games at home so we like the Panthers to cover with points in Week 17, this late season's matchup taking place in Florida so the weather should not be a factor as the local fans show up to perhaps Tom Brady’s last game wearing the Buccaneer red, white, and black, his NFL future yet to be determined.
One of the main problems the Buccaneers have been having this season is an injury-riddled offensive line, with veteran C Ryan Jensen (knee), OT Josh Wells (kneecap), and OG Aaron Stinnie (knee – ACL + MCL) all out and OT Donavan Smith (foot) listed as questionable it’s the next man up a situation in Week 17, this backup line not getting the job done establishing a run game.
Here is how the scoring breaks down so far this season for each of these teams – The Panthers' offense has generated 20.9 points per game and the Bucs' offense has average 17.7 points per game, a combined total of 38.6 points per game just under what this bet allows, and eight of the Buccaneers' last nine games as favorites have gone under the total points line, so that is what we like here.
The two defenses could take over the game, with the Carolina Panthers allowing 22.5 points per game and the Tamp Bay Buccaneers allowing 20.3 points per game, that total of 42.8 is enough over this bet that it should be taken into consideration but given how important this game is for each team’s playoff potential, expect them to get on the board early and often.
For anyone looking for a different kind of bet, FanDuel is offering this Week 17 Special where the bettor must guess what the result will be of the first drive of the game, the options being either a punt (-145), an offensive TD (+460), a field goal attempt (+460) or anything else (+550), so we take the punt choice with a $145 bet paying out $100 plus the initial investment that was made.
The key to a Panthers win will be to take advantage of the injured offensive line and the backups who are playing, the job of Carolina DEs Brian Burns and Yetur Gross-Matos and DTs Derrick Brown and Matt Ioannidis on the inside, this group with a combined 31 QB sacks on the season, with Bucs QB Brady tough to take down since he has been playing long enough to know when to throw the ball away.
The key to a Buccaneers win will be to take advantage of the Panthers’ 21st-ranked run defense that allows 125 ground yards per game, a tough ask given that Tampa Bay’s rushing attack is the least productive (ranked 32nd) in the league, a challenge for veteran RB Leonard Fournette and rookie RB Rachaad White to step up since it would also help balance out Brady’s passing game.
What: Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL
When: Sunday, January 1, 2023, at 1:00 PM ET
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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