The NFC South has always seemed to be a total crapshoot over the past few seasons, but already in 2015 it seems like some clarity has emerged. The Saints and Falcons are at opposite ends, and so too are the teams squaring off on Sunday – Carolina and Tampa Bay. Nobody knew what to expect from either of these squads in the off-season, and it’s clear that Tampa is still atrocious, while the Panthers have dealt with their injuries relatively well, and Cam Newton has kept this team afloat. Carolina will take to the road in Week 4 to try and improve their undefeated record to a perfect 4-0, and if he turns in yet another solid showing, the Panthers have a great shot to take a stranglehold on the division. These divisional clashes are always intriguing and we’ve got you covered here at The Sports Geek. Read on below for full game analysis and an official pick for this NFC South showdown.
Panthers vs. Buccaneers Betting Odds:
Carolina Panthers -3 (-115)
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3 (-105)
Over 40 (-110)
Under 40 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Panthers vs. Buccaneers Pick:
The Bucs are awful and surprisingly, the Panthers are not. That much is known thus far into the 2015 NFL season, and truthfully I’m with the public for this game. I am very surprised the Panthers are not bigger favourites and feel that this line could definitely go up by gametime. Tampa Bay possesses virtually zero homefield advantage to speak of and enter Sunday’s contest losers of ten straight games on their home field. Carolina has shown they’ve got the ability to destroy inferior teams and Week 4 could be another lopsided Panthers victory led by Cam Newton.
There was a ton of skepticism regarding the Panthers chances in 2015, mostly because of the loss to key wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. The young wideout was excellent last season, but Carolina’s offense hasn’t missed a beat this year. Cam Newton has been excellent thus far, and after seeing what he did recently vs. New Orleans’ defense, the Auburn product should be able to replicate that impressive showing again this week. Tampa conceded four scores to rookie Marcus Mariota, so look for a polished Cam Newton to have his way with their defense. Newton will be able to find Greg Olsen with ease on Sunday, and always has the solid option of handing off to the veteran Jonathan Stewart from the backfield. Alfred Blue of the Texans ran all over the Bucs’ defensive line, and Carolina will face little resistance moving the chains. The Buccaneers have a ton of issues and this team is a real mess right now defensively.
When Tampa Bay is on offense, it’s uncertain if there will be any sort of improvements from the controversial rookie QB Jameis Winston. The Florida State product has struggled in his first few games as a pro, and he’s not all-of-a-sudden going to be awesome against a very stout Carolina defense that just acquired Jared Allen from the Bears. Winston hasn’t even gone up against an overly tough defense yet, so Sunday’s game is likely to be a real eye opener for the youngster. Making matters worse is the fact that it looks like the game’s best linebacker, Luke Kuechly, could return for the Panthers.
Carolina is solid in all regards. Their defense is elite, and will embarrass an unproven Winston, while their offense has proven to be good enough to secure wins and move the chains. Tampa is awful defensively, and thus this really is a bad match-up right now for the Bucs. This spread is oddly low and it seems like the books are completely disrespecting the Panthers. They’re a better team than we all first thought, and they’ll prove it once again on Sunday. Cam Newton and his squad rolls comfortably against the Bucs.
PICK = Panthers -3 (-115)