The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been one of the pleasant surprises of this NFL season thus far, their resurgence in the highly contested NFC South has not gone under the limelight. On the other end of the spectrum, the Carolina Panthers have been one of the shocking surprises thus far as they have only managed to secure one victory and are showing little promise on both sides of the ball. Wade Phillips very well was the first casualty of the 2010 season but Panthers coach John Fox might be the next to hit the unemployment office. The (1-7) Carolina Panthers will travel to Raymond James Stadium trying to seek a divisional win against arched nemesis in the (5-3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Carolina Panthers have been absolutely dismal thus far this season and have been completely exposed in their run defense and run offense, traits they use to be known for their strength. RB DeAngelo Williams, a fast-but-powerful back who has 2,632 combined rushing yards in the past two seasons, has not been his usual self and has not been able to put together a solid outing thus far. Same goes for RB Jonathon Stewart, the product from Oregon has been hampered by an bum ankle and has yet to really get going. This week may be the first week that both backs are back and healthy this season, and coach John Fox will need to lean on these two if he has any aspirations of leaving Florida with a ‘W’. Put simply, run the ball. Carolina’s potent running back tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, left, has been arguably the league’s most prolific in recent years. Both are big backs that are difficult to tackle and are made better by a powerful offensive line. The key to victory this Sunday for the Panthers is to execute their clock-draining, deflating drives that they are renowned for. It keeps the Bucs offense off the field, and it drains the Tampa Bay defense, too. There’s no better example than the winning 16-play, 80-yard drive in last season’s meeting in Tampa.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are another case in point that programs can turn they corner quickly and return to respectability in a very short amount of time. The Bucs already have five wins this season are poised to contend late in December for the NFC South crown. There has been no sophomore slump for QB Josh Freeman, he may very well be the best pivot to come out of last years draft (Stafford, Sanchez). The Bucs enter this game with a rebuilt defensive line that has looked fairly solid and consistent thus far, but they will need to contain the Panthers dynamic duo for the second time this season. So this weeks game will really be a benchmark for exactly how far the run defense has come for the Buccaneers. Will rookies Gerald McCoy and Brian Price be up for the task? The Falcons were running the ball in the first half against the Bucs last week with much ease, but then they simply ran out of gas later in the game. Carolina will be starting Matt Moore at quarterback, if for some reason he can’t go, rookie Jimmy Clausen will get the nod. I’m not looking for big things from the Panthers passing attack so we will see a heavy dose of Williams and Stewart. The Bucs offense will be facing a youthful but aggressive defense. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a John Fox coached team. They were very aggressive in the preseason. QB Josh Freeman will be going up against veteran CB’s Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall. MLB Dan Conner returns for his third season.
Panthers vs Buccaneers Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Carolina Panthers +6.5
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers -6.5
Panthers vs Buccaneers Prediction for Week 10:
Spread Prediction (TOP PLAY) – The Carolina Panthers showed two striking things last week against the Saints. One, they have given up on this year and, two, there once feared rushing attack is lost. The Panthers have nothing to really hang their hats on and teams are exposing them in every facet on the gridiron. The Bucs are a resurgent group, led by sophomore QB Josh Freeman, and are poised to contend for the NFC South come years end. Carolina is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games and have already lost to Tampa by 13 points at home. It is also no secret that the Panthers don’t pack their suitcases to well, as they are 1-6 SU in its last 7 games on the road. I believe we see a heavy dose of rushing, which will set up the play-action for Josh Freeman and the Bucs will easily be able to prevail by this spread. We will consider the Bucs and the spread in this NFC South showdown.
Top Play Prediction = Buccaneers -6.5
Game Total Prediction – Tough spot here. We have a team that is dismal offensively and another that relies heavily on the run. I do, however, believe that both teams have the potential to put up points in heaps and I see that happening this Sunday. Panthers QB Matt Moore will want to avenge last weeks blowup and I look for him to put forth a solid outing. Both of these squads tend to put up big-time points when they hook up at Raymond James, in fact the total has gone OVER in 5 of Carolina’s last 6 games when playing on the road against Tampa Bay. The Bucs are playing great football as of late and are on a two game streak and posting past the total. Also, the total has gone OVER in 4 of Tampa Bay’s last 6 games. I believe 36.5 points is a good spot to have this total and I do see this game being somewhere in the range of 28 -10, siding with the home team. I recommend taking a look at the OVER. Cheers!
Prediction = OVER 36.5 Total Points