Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Spread: TAM -10
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a hot pick as a new contender. That, of course, is largely due to the mega addition of future NFL Hall of Famer Tom Brady. Brady got off to a shaky start as a Buccaneer, throwing 23 of 36 for 239 yards but equaling his two touchdowns with two costly interceptions. Tampa fell 23-34 to the New Orleans Saints, with plenty of the blame upon Brady’s shoulders. This week Tampa hosts the Carolina Panthers, and it finds itself 10-point favorites in a game with an over/under set at 47.5 points. The game will air at Noon (EST) on FOX.
It is not often that we have had the opportunity to refer to Brady as the main reason his team lost a game, but he is (presumably) in his waning seasons and adjusting to an entirely new team after spending his glory years in the Northeast. Brady threw two picks and was sacked three times for 15 total lost yards, and his passer rating was a paltry 78.4. Ronald Jones helped make up for some of that with a strong game in the backfield. Jones rushed 17 times for 66 yards, but he failed to score a TD. Brady rushed just three times, but ultimately one of those did result in a touchdown. Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller combined for 11 catches and 152 yards, but neither was able to catch a TD pass.
Tight end OJ Howard had one of the two receiving touchdowns, with Mike Evans catching a 2-yard pass for the other. It was not the worst game offensively for the Bucs, but there were enough reasons for concern that the 10-point spread looks a little bloated this week, especially if the Panthers are adjusting to “Life without Cam,” as quickly as the Bucs are failing to adjust to “Life with Tom.” It might be an overblown subplot one week into the season, but both Brady fans and detractors will be evaluating the Patriots and Panthers in the irrelevant light they must since their star quarterback is no longer a part of the New England regime.
The Carolina Panthers fell week 1 30-34 to the Oakland Raiders. Teddy Bridgewater got his first start replacing the departed Cam Newton, and Bridgewater put together a pretty solid game despite the loss. He threw 22 of 34 for 269 yards and a touchdown. He threw no interceptions and suffered just one sack (for a bad loss of 10-yards). Bridgewater was not overly active rushing and scrambling, though he did attempt four rushes for 26 total yards, including a 13-yards stint. Christian McCaffrey was superb and consistent, rushing 23 times for 97 yards and managing two TD rushes. Robby Anderson was the star of the receiving core with six catches for 114 yards and the lone Carolina receiving touchdown. DJ Moore and McCaffrey each caught four and three passes, respectively, for 92 yards between them.
Shaq Thompson was a beast for the Carolina “D.” He finished with 12 tackles (5 solos) and 1.5 tackles for loss. The Panthers will need that intensity from Thompson again to hopefully slow Ronald Jones while putting enough passing pressure on Brady to hopefully force another couple picks. The Buccaneers are expected to be a threat this year, but after Week 1’s issues it sure seems to be a bit over-favored and perhaps too respected; that is until Tampa begins to show better signs of chemistry and leadership.
Brady will be one in charge of the latter issue, and the veteran should make a big difference in bringing some power to the Bucs’ offense. Jameis Winston did at times, but this is a vet who is HOF-bound, and the difference should be seen sooner than later.
As to whether it translates to a double-digit win? That still seems like a shaky proposition. Carolina is a tough football team in its own right, and few are underestimating the power of Bridgewater to return to his vaunted form pre-injury. This should be a fairly tight game.