Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Carolina Panthers: Odds and Predictions (NFL Week 2)

John Breech of CBS Sports takes the under and predicts the score as Panthers 27, Buccaneers 17. My prediction is take the under, final score Panthers 28, Buccaneers 20.

How to watch

What: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

When: Thursday Night Football, September 12 at 8:20 p.m. ET

Where: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina

How (TV): NFLN

Latest Point Spread: Buccaneers + 6.5, Panthers -6.5

Both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers struck out last week and will now enter Week 2 of the NFL season hungry for their first win, and even better if it’s against an NFC South rival.

Both quarterbacks have their share of troubles – the Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston threw 3 picks last week and the Panthers’ Cam Newton is still getting used to his rehabbed throwing shoulder – so they will most likely be looking to take it out on each other in this Week 2 divisional showdown.

Let’s take a quick look at each of these teams now ready for the 2019 season.

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The 0-1-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now being head coached by offensive genius Bruce Arians, but it sure didn’t look like it in Week 1 against the San Francisco Giants when they could only score 17 points to the Giants’ 31.

They say an Arians’ offense takes time to adjust to, but Winston doesn’t have much time left since his contract is about to expire making him an undrafted free agent in 2020.

The Bucs’ defense has to stay intense for the entire sixty minutes (they let the Giants score most of their points in the second half) and running back Peyton Barber has to contribute more than just the 10 touches he had in Week 1 for 45 total yards and no touchdowns.

For more on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers check out this article: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Biggest Offseason Moves

The 0-1-0 Carolina Panthers:

Quarterback Cam Newton had a rough start to the season in Week 1 against the Super Bowl losing Los Angeles Rams, throwing an interception in the fourth quarter of that loss and throwing a backwards pass that resulted in a fumble and then a Rams touchdown earlier.

Of course, Panthers’ running back (as well as their defacto slot receiver) Christian McCaffrey came out hustling and leaping, running the ball 19 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns while also catching 11 balls for 81 yards.

The team looked a bit rusty on both sides of the ball, as did the immobile Newton, so expect head coach Ron Rivera to push his players through all that during this upcoming short week.

What’s at stake:

These two teams have met 37 total times, with Carolina winning 23 of those games and Tampa Bay winning 14 games.

The Buccaneers won in their last meeting at home in December of 2018 by a touchdown (24-17) but the Panthers won the last two times they have played in Charlotte in 2018 and the season prior.

If the Buccaneers win this matchup, they’ll break even at 1-1-0 and will have an early advantage in the NFC South, which will make everybody in Tampa happy that Arians is now in charge.

But if the Panthers are victorious instead, the divisional advantage is theirs, and their 1-1-0 record will help them stay apace of the Saints and Falcons as well as reestablish faith in Newton’s ability to win games.

Questions to answer

Who’s favored to win this Week 2 Buccaneers-Panthers matchup?

Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?

Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?

We’re going to briefly compare the Buccaneers and the Panthers next and attempt to answer those questions and more.

OFFENSIVE STATS COMPARISON

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Overall Offense

  • Ranked 3rd overall in 2018
  • Ranked 25th overall in 2019

Passing Attack: Tampa Bay’s passing attack was lousy in Week 1, mostly because Winston threw the ball to the opponent three times during the game.

Winston did connect with receiver Chris Godwin for a 10-yard touchdown, but the third-year receiver will have to step up more often if he expects to remain a big part of Arians’ offensive strategy.

A surprise boost to the Bucs passing attack came from backup running back Dare Ogunbowale, who caught 4-of-5 targets for 33 yards despite not carrying the ball once.

Rushing attack: The running game in Week 1 was dominated by Ronald Jones, who rushed 13 times for 75 yards, his longest a 16 yarder.

Peyton Barber had 8 carries for 33 yards with a nice 14 yarder in there, and he also caught 2 balls for 12 yards to keep the 49ers defense on their toes.

The Buccaneers’ rushing attack was 29th best in the league last week after posting a total of just 95.2 total yards on the ground, an area of Arians’ offensive scheme that could use some definite improvement overall.

Tampa Bay Offensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 2: quarterback Blaine Gabbert (shoulder)

INJURY NOTE: wide receiver K.J. Brent (undisclosed) was placed on injured reserve

Carolina Panthers Overall Offense

  • Ranked 10th overall in 2018
  • Ranked 22nd overall in 2019

Passing Attack: Cam Newton went 25-of-38 against the Rams in Week 1 without throwing for a touchdown but with a pick.

Besides McCaffrey, the Panthers have D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel as receiving targets as well as tight end Greg Olsen, who pulled in 4 passes for 36 yards last week.

The Panthers’ 216 yards passing during Week 1 was tied for 21st most and resulted in a loss, so that will obviously have to get better for Newton’s pass attack to be taken seriously.

Rushing Attack: Newton, who typically runs a bit, posted -2 yards of rushing last week, a trend that will not help the normally talented scrambler keep defenses honest.

McCaffrey is the athletic go-to man of Carolina’s rushing (and passing) attack and as long as he remains healthy he can be dangerous out of the backfield as well as the slot.

Carolina offensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 2: offensive tackle Greg Little (concussion) and tight end Greg Olsen (back)

INJURY NOTES: tight end Marcus Baugh (undisclosed) and guard Kofi Amichia (undisclosed) have both been placed on injured reserve.

>> OFFENSIVE ADVANTAGE: Carolina – take a cautious Cam Newton in the pocket over an erratic Jameis Winston throwing wildly.

DEFENSIVE STATS COMPARISON

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Overall Defense

  • Ranked 27th overall in 2018
  • Ranked 27th overall in 2019

Pass coverage: Tampa Bay’s passing defense kept Garoppolo to 166 yards and outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett even sacked him once but the Bucs had trouble controlling 49ers’ tight end George Kittle, who pulled in 8 receptions for 54 yards, including a 19 yarder.

Tampa Bay can’t give Panthers’ tight end Greg Olsen that kind of freedom or he will make them pay, assuming he is healthy enough to play (see above).

Run coverage: Tampa Bay ranked 24th last week against the run after allowing their opponents to rush for 123.9 yards during the game.

They will have to do a whole lot better than that against McCaffrey, who had a field day against the Rams last week, ranking second overall in the league in rushing yards (128).

Buccaneers Defensive Players to watch:

Watch for free safety Jordan Whitehead, who already has 8 tackles after just one game.

Linebacker Shaquil Barrett is a good one to keep an eye on, with a sack and 4 tackles so far in 2019.

The Buccaneers managed 1 interception against the 49ers in Week 1 by cornerback Vernon Hargreaves – he will strike again.

Buccaneers defensive injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 2: no Bucs defensive players are listed as questionable

INJURY NOTES: safety Justin Evans (Achilles issue) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter (ankle) have both been placed on injured reserve.

Carolina Panthers Overall Defense

  • Ranked 15th overall in 2018
  • Ranked 18th overall in 2019

Pass coverage: The Panthers kept Jared Goff under 200 yards passing (186) and even picked him off once, courtesy of cornerback James Bradberry.

Speaking of which, Bradberry also registered a sack against Goff and two tackles, a nice Week 1 game for him.

Run coverage: This is what may have cost the Panthers the game in Week 1 – after keeping Rams’ running back Todd Gurley quiet for most of the first half, he ended up rushing for 97 yards with a 25-yarder in there, helping to set Los Angeles up with the win.

Carolina’s rushing defense, ranked 12th best in Week 1, should have a slightly easier time in Week 2 against the Bucs’ Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones.

Panthers Defensive Players to watch:

Watch for defensive back Tre Boston, who already has 12 tackles in just one week.

Check out cornerback James Bradberry for sure, he is all over the place wreaking havoc – in Week 1 he posted a sack, an interception, 3 passes defended and 4 tackles.

Panthers Defensive Injuries

Listed as questionable for Week 2: defensive end Bruce Irvin (hamstring) and safety Rashaan Gaulden (groin)

INJURY NOTE: safety Damian Parms (undisclosed) and defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao (undisclosed) have both been placed on injured reserve

>> DEFENSIVE ADVANTAGE: Carolina, though not by much at this point in the season.

Special Teams Stats Comparison

Punters

Tampa Bay’s punter, Bradley Pinion, is in his sixth NFL season, his first with the Buccaneers, and last week he punted 2 times for a net average of 21.1 yards per punt, last in the league.

Carolina’ punter, Michael Palardy, is in his sixth NFL season, fifth with the Panthers, and last week he punted 4 times for a net average of 38.5 yards per punt, which was the 13th best in the league.

Placekickers

Tampa Bay’s placekicker, Matt Gay, is a rookie who was drafted in the fifth round, 145th pick overall.

Gay was 26-for-31 last season for Utah Utes football and he missed zero extra point attempts (45/45).

Carolina’ placekicker, Joey Slye, signed and released by the New York Giants twice last offseason and then signed by the Panthers in August.

Slye was 2-of-3 last week, his longest a 52-yarder, and he missed zero extra point attempts (3/3).

Punt Returners

Tampa Bay’s punt returner, wide receiver Bobo Wilson, was ranked T-18th in punt return average last week (second to last).

In Week 1, Wilson returned 1 punt for 0 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 0 yards per return, his longest for 0 yards.

Carolina’ punt returner, wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, was ranked 4th in average punt return yardage last week.

McCloud returned 2 punts for 24 yards, averaging 12.0 yards per return, his longest for 13 yards.

>> SPECIAL TEAM ADVANTAGE: Narrow advantage to Carolina, since their punt returner had more success last week, though both placekickers suffer from youth and inexperience.

Final Game Analysis

Why will the Buccaneers win this game?

This would be a big win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, not only because the Panthers are probably a more talented team, but also because it would prove that the Bruce Arians effect is working.

For the Bucs to win, Winston will have to be more picky about who he throws the ball to and his number one receiver Mike Evans has to do better than catching 2-of-5 balls that come his way like he did in Week 1.

This team has the talent to win this game – the question is whether they have come together enough yet under Arians to get it done in Week 2 away from home.

Why will the Panthers win this game?

The Carolina Panthers are the better team here – but that’s only true if Cam Newton plays like Cam Newton and not a weaker version of himself.

Newton has to be more mobile outside of the pocket to beat the Bucs because that will split the defense’s attention and give McCaffrey more chances to get open and make big plays.

The Panthers will win this matchup because at this moment in the season they are a better team than the Buccaneers who are still struggling to figure out basic answers as to who they are and how they plan to attack and defend.

>> THIS GAME GOES TO THE: Carolina Panthers by 8

Current odds listed for Week 2: Buccaneers vs Panthers

Check out the latest odds here provided by New Jersey sportsbooks.

Money Line:

SportsbookTampa Bay BuccaneersCarolina Panthers
888Sport NJ+225-286

Point Spread:

SportsbookTB Buccaneers +6.5CAR Panthers -6.5
888Sport NJ-103-120

Total Points:

SportsbookOver 49Under 49
888Sport NJ-110-110

John Breech of CBS Sports takes the under and predicts the score as Panthers 27, Buccaneers 17

My prediction is take the under, final score Panthers 28, Buccaneers 20.

Be sure to also check out our Top 10 Best NFL Picks for Week 2

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