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Bucs vs. Panthers Betting Preview: Thursday Night Football Odds, Predictions, and Picks

12th September, 19:10

Week 1 of the NFL season was not kind for those who kicked off their PA sports betting experience by backing the favorites as such teams went only 6-9-1 against the spread. Week 1 of the NFL season was also not kind to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers as both teams dropped their season openers at home. Let's take a look at which one of these squads will reverse its fortunes this week in our Bucs-Panthers betting preview.

Those tough opening week losses sets up an important NFC South division matchup between two teams that should be desperately looking to avoid an 0-2 start. Since the 2007 season, only 12 of the near 100 teams that started 0-2 went on to reach the playoffs, though last season featured several slow starters that eventually rebounded to make a run. Seattle got off to an 0-2 start, Houston dropped its first three games, and while Indianapolis avoided an 0-2 start, the Colts dropped five of their first six games, yet all three teams reached the postseason.

Still, while tonight's game isn't necessarily a must-win for either team, it's still pretty damn important, particularly for a Panthers team that will be 25% of the way through its home slate.

Who's going to grab the win tonight? And more importantly, which team will cover the spread? Let's break it down and take a look at the best sportsbook promotions, odds, and game trends in this full Buccaneers-Panthers betting preview, so that you can start off Week 2 with a winner.

Once again this week, there are several excellent sign-up bonuses and promotions at PA sportsbooks to take advantage of out there. Here are some up the top legal online sportsbooks to place your bets for Thursday Night Football:

It will be Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the call as the top FOX crew will do the telecast for NFL Network.

Always, always shop around. With so many different betting options out there, always look to maximize your win-potential by grabbing the best odds and cheapest prices on the market. With that in mind, here are the current Buccaneers-Panthers betting odds at some of the best legal online sportsbooks. Odds are current as of 8 a.m. Thursday morning:

Let's look at the sportsbook moneyline probability in relation to FiveThirtyEight's ELO point spread projection.

First, the disclaimer. Projection models such as ELO aren't always on target, but they do often serve as a comparison point to track where there could exist some potential betting value.

The ELO point spread projection has Carolina as a six-point favorite in this contest and gives the Panthers a healthy 70% win probability. With the Buccaneers currently on the board as a seven-point underdog across all of the major legal online sportsbooks, there's some value on a Tampa Bay spread bet.

As for moneyline value, the implied win probability of the -300 moneyline odds at FanDuel Sportsbook is 75%. In relation to the ELO projection, the Panthers are a bit overpriced.

On the other hand, the implied probability of Tampa Bay at +250 moneyline odds is 28.6%, which means there's some ever so slight value on grabbing the Buccaneers on the moneyline.

Hey, who feels good about backing Jameis Winston on the road this week? I know I sure do!

Winston had an opportunity last week to put an otherwise miserable day behind him late in the fourth quarter against the 49ers, but he instead threw his second pick-six of the day, burying his team in the process.

There was a lot of hype ahead of this season that the hiring of celebrated quarterback whisperer Bruce Arians would help Winston take the "next step"-and he still may do just that-but the early returns were not good for the fifth-year quarterback. He completed only 20 of 36 pass attempts (55.6%) for 194 yards to go along with one touchdown and three interceptions. He was also sacked three times.

In fact, his performance was so bad that it entirely overshadowed a solid performance from a Bucs defense that allowed only 256 total yards and had a pick-six of its own against San Francisco.

As for the Panthers, well, Christian McCaffrey showed up last week. He rushed for 128 yards and added 10 catches for 81 yards. Decent day, I guess.

The problem for the Carolina offense was that nobody else did much against the Rams in a 30-27 loss.

Cam Newton struggled with efficiency, completing 25 of 39 pass attempts for only 239 yards. He failed to throw for a touchdown and had a costly interception and lost fumble, too.

Interestingly, Newton, who has averaged 38.8 rushing yards per game throughout his career, carried the ball only three times for -2 yards a week ago. He just wasn't the dynamic play-maker we're accustomed to seeing when he's at his best.

Defensively, Carolina managed to keep quarterback Jared Goff in check, holding him to only 186 yards on 39 pass attempts, but the Rams were able to pound away at the Panthers defensive front, totaling 166 yards on 32 carries (5.2 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.

The underdog has covered five of the last six meetings between these two teams.

Carolina Clunkers

If the Panthers/ recent performance on Thursday Night Football is any indication, then betting against them isn't a bad idea. Carolina has failed to cover in each of its last four Thursday Night Football contests. Meanwhile, Cam Newton is 1-6 ATS all-time in prime-time Thursday night games.

Bouncing Back

Tampa Bay is an outstanding 7-1-1 ATS in its last nine games off of a double-digit home loss.

Big Spreads Mean Big Trouble for Favorites

There are two NFC South-based trends worth looking at in this game. Since the 2003 season, NFC South road underdogs between six to eight points in division contests are 21-12 ATS. Those teams when coming off a loss in their previous game are 12-7 ATS.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is 8-4-1 ATS when Winston starts as a road underdog of six or more points and 7-3-1 ATS when he starts as a road underdog of seven or more points.

Buccaneers Brutal on Thursday Nights

Carolina isn't the only squad that can't seem to figure out Thursday night games. Tampa Bay is 0-5 ATS in its last five Thursday night appearances.

Carolina Comebacks

The Panthers have been pretty strong under Ron Rivera coming off a loss. They are 31-22-1 ATS after a loss and 17-9-1 ATS when playing at home following a loss. In games starting by Newton off a loss, the Panthers are 17-7-1 ATS.

One more thing: Carolina is 2-0-1 ATS when favored by at least seven points when coming off a loss.

There's a theory out there that these early-season Thursday night games tend to be low-scoring, sloppy affairs like we saw last week in Chicago, but that's not necessarily true. In fact, over the last 36 Thursday night games played in September, the under is hitting at exactly 50%.

That being said, the over has hit in 13 of Tampa Bay's last 17 road games, and it is also 6-2 in Carolina's last eight homes games. Don't love these early season prime-time totals, but I could see this game squeaking into the 50s.

Here are the betting splits of all reporting legal sportsbooks as of Thursday morning:

The public is hammering Carolina. 79% of point spread bets and 83% of the spread money is on the Panthers.

As for the total, the bets are split 50-50, but 63% of the money is on the under. If you like to go against the public money, then the Bucs and the over it is.

It's hard to imagine that Jameis Winston leads what appears to be a lesser team into Carolina to knock off what should be an equally desperate Carolina squad. I don't see that happening, but the success of both Winston and NFC South squads in similar spots sets up an enticing spot for a Tampa Bay cover. I also love the Buccaneers' recent run of covers following double digit home losses. I don't have a ton of confidence after watching Tampa's offense sputter last week, but I think they bounce back enough to cover the seven-point spread.