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Bucs to tame Panthers? Get NFL Thursday Night Football tips

Leigh Copson 12 Sep 2019
Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers (credit:USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers predictions for Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season. Can the Carolina Panthers avoid starting the season with back-to-back home defeats when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Thursday Night Football? Read on for all of our free predictions and betting tips.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

Carolina paid the price for a slow start as they dropped their season-opener at home to the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. Knocking off the Rams, considered a leading contender for Super Bowl glory, was always going to be a tricky task for the Panthers, and it became even bigger when they spotted the visitors a 13-3 half-time lead with an underwhelming first-half display on offense. They did respond well after the break to out-score Los Angeles through the final two quarters, but Tyler Higbee’s five-yard touchdown catch with six minutes remaining proved to be the backbreaker for the Panthers, who responded with a field goal to make it 30-27 with two minutes to go but failed to successfully convert an onside kick attempt. Afterwards head coach Ron Rivera was left to bemoan ‘missed opportunities’ that could have seen Carolina get the better of the team beaten in last season’s Super Bowl, and the pressure is firmly on he and his team to correct their mistakes in a short week because the Panthers can ill-afford to start their season with back-to-back home losses. They have a short week to work it out though, because Tampa Bay are coming to town for Thursday Night Football.

While the Panthers dropped their opener against Los Angeles, Tampa Bay were also on the receiving end of a defeat to a Californian franchise. But while Rivera’s men were coming up short against a team many believe could go all the way this season, the Buccaneers were handing new head coach Bruce Arians a losing debut with a sloppy, mistake-filled performance at San Francisco. The Bucs turned to Arians in the offseason in the hope that the ‘quarterback whisperer’ could kickstart the career of Jameis Winston, but there was very little evidence that the former Arizona head coach is getting through to the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Winston completed just 20 of his 136 pass attempts for 194 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, and two of those picks were returned for scores by the 49ers as they pulled away in the second half to run out convincing 31-17 winners. Afterwards Arians claimed “when we stop beating ourselves, we’ll be pretty good”, but that day could be a long way off for Tampa Bay. It certainly will not come on Thursday night when they head to Carolina.

Now, Thursday Night Football is known for throwing up some shock results due to team’s only having a short week to prepare, and of course we are still very early in the season and in many ways that increases the possibility of an upset here. But I just do not see how the Buccaneers are going to walk into Bank of America Stadium and tame the Panthers. Carolina blew some chances to win last weekend and while that was a major disappointment for them, putting up 27 points and running a Super Bowl contender very close is hardly a disastrous start to the season. That effort would have almost certainly got the job done against the blundering Bucs who found numerous ways to shoot themselves and the hand the game to a San Francisco team who made plenty of mistakes themselves and will not enjoy many victories this season. The Panthers are, quite simply, a much better football team with better talent on both sides of the football, so unless they make some really catastrophic mistakes the home side should get their first win on the board here.

It will not be a particularly high-scoring game though – the Bucs offered very little on offense last weekend and it is very difficult to see them putting many points on the scoreboard against this Carolina defense. The Panthers did give up 30 points against Los Angeles, but that figure is very misleading – this unit is much better than that number suggests and they did an excellent job at shutting down Jared Goff and the Rams’ passing game a week ago. If they can do that to Goff and that talented LA offense then you have to wonder what they will do against this poor Tampa Bay offense. Therefore backing the Panthers to overcome a -5.5 handicap in a matchup that produces less than 52.5 total points has to be the way to go here.

My second selection is a little more of a gamble, but that statistics suggest it is one that could pay off with a tidy return. Christian McCaffrey’s snaps were supposed to be limited this season, but Panthers head coach Rivera will have no choice but to let his running back off the leash if he continues the form he showed in the second half of last season and on the opening weekend of the current campaign. McCaffrey shone brightest in the loss to LA as he racked up 209 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, and he could be set for another big day against a defense that he has tormented in the past. The 23-year-old went for 318 total yards and three touchdowns in his two meetings with Tampa Bay last season, so if you are looking for a First Touchdown Scorer for Thursday night it is very difficult to look past the Carolina man, especially at odds of 3/1.

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Bucs to tame Panthers? Get NFL Thursday Night Football tips

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers predictions for Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season.

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