Carolina Panthers (6-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)
NFL: Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 at 1:00 pm (Raymond James Stadium)
Line and Odds: Carolina Panthers -3.5 Over/Under: 56.5
Free NFL Pick Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers have hit a rough patch in the middle of their 2018 season. The Panthers went 6-2 in the first half of the season. Carolina had a solid grip on an NFC Wild Card spot and were within striking distance of the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints. Since then, they have lost 3 straight games. The Panthers lost two close games against the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks and a blowout against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Carolina is currently 2nd in the NFC South and 8th in the NFC. Last week, the Seattle Seahawks ended Carolina’s 10 game home streak with a 30-27 win in Charlotte. The Panthers find themselves in a position where they have to stop the bleeding or they will watch their playoff chances slip away. They travel to Tampa Bay in week 13, but they’re only 1-4 on the road this season. Carolina’s only win away from home was a 21-17 win at Philadelphia in week 7. The Panthers are led by their strong offense. Carolina averages 6.1 yards per play, ranking 8th in the NFL. They are 10th in scoring offense, averaging 26.1 points per game. The Panthers are 12th in total offense, gaining 370.7 yards per game on the year. Carolina’s offense has turned the ball over just 11 times this season, which is the 6th-fewest giveaway number in the league. They are also above league-average on 3rd down and red zone opportunities. Carolina is 12th in 3rd down conversion percentage and 7th in red zone touchdown percentage. The break out star of this offense is RB Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey has 757 rushing yards and 5 TDs on 153 attempts. He also has 71 receptions, 608 receiving yards, and 5 TDs on 82 targets. He leads the Panthers in all rushing and receiving categories. On the other side of the ball, Carolina’s defense hasn’t been as strong as they have been in the recent past. The Panthers give up 5.8 yards per play, ranking 18th in the NFL. They give up 25.6 points per game which makes them 20th in scoring defense. Carolina is 19th in 3rd down defense, allowing first downs on 39.8% of their opponents’ 3rd down opportunities. The worst aspect of the Panthers’ defense is their poor play in the red zone. They rank 31st in the NFL in defensive red zone touchdown percentage, allowing touchdowns on 75% of their opponents’ trips inside the 20 yard line.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to avenge a week 9 42-28 loss at Carolina. The 2018 season for Tampa Bay has been a roller coaster ride as a team and at the quarterback position. They have some great wins and some hideous losses. Tampa has an explosive offense but a leaky defense. The Buccaneers coaching staff can’t seem to decide which QB should be starting for them. They’ve alternated between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston 3 times this season. Deep down, the Bucs want Jameis Winston to be their long-term franchise quarterback. However, mistakes on and off the field have stunted his development. They are hoping Jameis can build on the momentum from last week’s win over the San Francisco 49ers. Winston went 29 for 38 for 312 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions for a 117.4 Quarterback Rating. The Buccaneers’ offense has been explosive, productive, and turnover-prone, regardless of who is playing quarterback. Tampa Bay ranks #1 in the NFL in total offense, averaging 454.3 yards per game. They average 6.6 yards per play, good for 4th in the league in that statistic. The Bucs are 9th in scoring offense, averaging 26.7 points per game. Tampa Bay also has the 2nd-best 3rd down offense in the NFL. The Bucs convert 49.6% of their 3rd down conversion attempts. The one fatal flaw of the Buccaneers’ offense is their sloppiness with the football. Tampa Bay has turned the ball over a whopping 29 times, ranking dead last in the NFL in terms of giveaways. Defensively, the Buccaneers have been atrocious. They rank 31st in the league in terms of yards per play, giving up 6.4 ypp. They allow 30.7 points per game, ranking 31st in scoring defense. Tampa Bay ranks 32nd in red zone touchdown % defense, allowing opponents to score touchdowns on 86.84% of their red zone attempts. The Buccaneers are 31st in the NFL in takeaways, forcing just 8 turnovers on the season. Tampa Bay’s -21 turnover margin has been crippling to their hopes of being a playoff contender.
Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends
Carolina is 1-7 SU in its last 8 games on the road
Carolina is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games when playing Tampa Bay
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Carolina’s last 5 games
Tampa Bay is 2-6-1 ATS in its last 9 games
The total has gone OVER in 9 of Tampa Bay’s last 12 games
Tampa Bay is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games at home
Free NFL Prediction Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I like Tampa Bay against the spread in this match-up. Despite Jameis Winston’s up-and-down play, I’m encouraged by his most recent performance. I think he may be taking the game seriously and understanding the gravity of his situation. If Tampa Bay can get the offensive explosiveness without the carelessness, their offense takes a back seat to no one. I’m also impressed by the way Tampa Bay’s defense played last week. It was their best defensive performance all year. Carolina has not been playing well and they are not a good road team. The Panthers have lost some of the momentum they accrued over the first half of the season. My advice would be to take Tampa Bay and the points in this game.