#317 Carolina Panthersvs.#318 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Written by Chuck D
Carolina Panthers 6-9 (5-9 ATS) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-7 (9-6 ATS)
When and Where: Sunday, Jan. 1, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. 1;00pm EST (FOX)
Spread: Tampa Bay -6.5; Total: 46.5
The Buccaneers blew a golden opportunity on Sunday in New Orleans when they fell to the Saints in New Orleans, 31-24. Now if the team hopes to make the postseason for the first time since 2007, they would need a heap-load of help. Meanwhile, Cam Newton and the defending NFC Champions continue to limp towards the finish line in what has been a disappointing 2016 campaign. Carolina fell at home to the Falcons 33-16 to officially clinch a losing season. Last time these two teams faced off it was Tampa Bay picking up the 17-14 win earlier this year in Charlotte.
Thanks for the performances by Carolina and Denver this year, this will be the first season since 2003 in which both Super Bowl participants from the previous campaign failed to make the postseason the following year. Something was off with the Panthers from the jump as they limped out of the gates with a 1-5 record. After showing signs of life by winning two in a row they crashed back to reality and dropped three of their next four. They do head to Tampa having won two of three, but fell to Atlanta in their last outing.
The Falcons jumped out to a 13-0 lead after one quarter of play and never looked back en route to the 17-point victory. The loss gave Atlanta the same division crown that Carolina had claimed a year ago. Cam Newton, who has just not looked the same this season, went 18-for-43 for 198 yards and one touchdown. He also threw two first-half interceptions. “Just all in all we couldn’t get in a rhythm,” he said. After going 10-0 at home last year, the squad managed just a 4-4 mark in Charlotte this season.
With a chance to move to 9-6 and stay right in the thick of the NFC playoff race, Tampa Bay went to the Big Easy and laid an egg. Well not really, but they still lost and blew a big chance to stay in the race. The truth of the matter is that the squad was lucky to be in the position they were in the first place, having lost three of their first four games this season and at one point sitting with a 3-5 record. The squad got hot and won five in a row behind some solid play from second-year quarterback Jameis Winston, but the team just could not finish the race and now enter this game having dropped two straight. With 112 yards passing against the Panthers, Winston can hit the 4,000 yard mark for the 2016 campaign. He is also just three touchdowns away from 30.
Against the Saints, Winston completed 23 of 35 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns. Roberto Aguayo’s 35-yard field goal cut the lead to 31-24 but the onside kick failed and New Orleans would run out the clock. Running Back Doug Martin, who signed a big contract in the offseason, was healthy but did not play due to a coach’s decision. “We’ve got four backs and we can’t give them all touches,” said head coach Dirk Koetter. In his absence, Jacquizz Rodgers led the squad on the ground with 15 carries for 63 yards.
Tampa Bay is:
The reality is that Tampa Bay is not going to make the playoffs. Too many odd things would need to happen and the whole team knows it. So basically, neither team has anything to play for in this game. Also, The Bucs only pulled out a narrow three-point victory the last time the two teams squared off, and that was thanks to a late missed FG by Carolina. Any way you stack it up, 6.5 points are too many here.
The over is 9-3 the last 12 times these two teams have squared off in Tampa, which is why the total is so high for this contest. The last time the two teams played, they managed to combine for just 31 points. When I think of these squads, offensive fireworks does not exactly come to mind. I like the under here.
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Chuck Dowling is a 30-something University of Florida J-School alum that lives in his mother’s basement. Just kidding... there are no basements in Florida (the ground is too moist). He has been in the “biz” for his entire adult life and specializes in NCAA football and basketball, as well as soccer, boxing, and MMA. When not writing, Chuck moonlights as a high school athletics radio and internet-television broadcaster.