The Carolina Panthers surprised some people, and maybe could have done better, as they narrowly lost to the Las Vegas Raiders in the opener. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played their first game amidst a lot of ballyhoo and came away with a disappointing result.
These teams do battle on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, with kickoff scheduled for 1 PM ET on FOX (regional coverage). BetAnySports customers can get reduced juice and also place wagers while the game is in progress with Sports Betting Prime.
There was some drama swirling around each camp this week. As far as the Panthers were concerned, it involved their seeming reluctance to get Christian McCaffrey into the offense until deep into the third quarter, and not at all during a crucial fourth-and-one play that could have made all the difference in their 34-30 defeat.
The Bucs sustained a couple of Tom Brady interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, as they lost 34-23 to New Orleans. And then Bruce Arians kind of called Brady out for his play. Clearly this is a different kind of coach he’s playing for.
So here they go – two NFC South rivals looking for a win. And in the pro football odds that are coming from BetAnySports on this game, the Bucs are the favorites:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -8.5
Carolina Panthers +8.5
Over 47.5 points -110
Under 47.5 points -110
Brady threw for 239 yards on the day, and after he led them down the field on the first drive, with the help of a couple of penalties, it looked as if it might be an easy day. But things got choppy after that. This week Chris Godwin, one of Tampa Bay’s two Pro Bowl wide receivers, is listed as doubtful. And maybe the Bucs don’t need him to put a lot of points on the board, as long as they can get Rob Gronkowski more involved in the action. They also should be seeing something more from Leonard Fournette. It’s a long season, and one can only suspect that Brady will get more familiar with his offensive teammates.
Arians’ criticism is a little different. He waited a lot longer than this to throw Jameis Winston under the bus last year. Brady was certainly chewed out by Bill Belichick, but it didn’t happen during a press conference. Will it light a fire under Brady? Who knows – surely at age 43 he’s been around the block, although Arians is only the second coach he has played for.
Joe Brady was calling plays for the first time for the Panthers. Sure, he did wonders with Joe Burrow. But what about Teddy Bridgewater? Well, 270 passing yards isn’t too bad, and he did connect on a 75-yard touchdown strike to Robby Anderson.
McCaffrey wound up with 134 all-purpose yards. And we can imagine that there were lessons learned on the part of Brady, who is really just learning on the job. What’s important to remember, though, is that head coach Matt Rhule has deflected the criticism away from Brady, taken the responsibility himself, and essentially sent the message that he understands the mistakes and is ready to correct them.
The big problem on each side is on defense. No one doubts that the Bucs can be formidable against the run, but the opponent simply funnels its activity to the air game. And Carolina’s stop unit is still a work in progress. They’re young and inexperienced; they are switching back to a four-man front; they lost their leader in Luke Kuechly, they are unproven in the secondary, and they couldn’t get any6 sacks of Derek Carr last week. They are in their first year under coordinator Phil Snow, who spent a few seasons with the Detroit Lions but has largely been a college assistant, most recently under Rhule at Baylor (and before that, Temple).
Yes, the offenses here are quite a bit more dependable than the stop units. We’re looking for this game to sail OVER the total.
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