On the Line: Bucs at Panthers

C3 On the Line series bets the Carolina Panthers line and discusses the stakes of the game in the context of the Panthers season. CarolinaCatChronicles.com On the Line is not betting advice, but a means for football discussion. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

Panthers -6 (42 O/U)

Last week, C3 claimed "The NFC South has been one nauseating roller coaster" in the On the Line piece.  If that week was the roller coaster descent, this week is the fast track back up after beating the Saints and facing a troubled Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Once again, the Panthers find themselves in the division hunt, playing a division rival, and in control of their destiny.

Here’s a look at what’s On the Line for the Carolina Panthers.

All Bets Are In:

Professor’s Bet: Panthers  -6 (Taking the Under) 

The streak has been broken, and now we’re right back to where we’ve been pretty much for the whole season--a team with a terrible record that has a real shot at winning the division.   It only took 14 weeks, but it seems that Carolina has finally started to play with a sense of urgency.  Ron Rivera cancelled victory Monday and held practice.  He, Cam Newton, and Derek Anderson have all pleaded to the fans to find a second wind on Sunday and help cheer the Panthers to a victory.  There is one caveat to this, however.  Cam Newton is out, and DA is in.  Carolina simply isn’t a better team with Anderson at the helm.  Thank God, it’s only the Bucs.  I don’t see a run away, but I do think Carolina can find a a way to cover this game.  Carolina’s defense is finally performing, and this week they’ll make easy work of a non-existent Tampa offensive line.  23-13 Panthers

Mel Mayock: Panthers -6  (Taking the Under)

Not real sure what to expect this week with SuperCam being out.  But I’m feeling the positive mojo once again and I fully anticipate the Offensive Line to continue it’s improved play.  And according to Profootballfocus.com, the Bucs are way worse than the Saints in run-defense and are the second to the last in that category in the league (Tennessee is ranked last).  So look for Jonathan Stewart to have another big week.  Our Defense seems to have turned the corner too, with Stiki Wiki making plays in the defensive backfield.  So long as we don’t start turning the ball over or giving up blocked punts, I look for us to roll in this one.  But that is a admittedly a big variable to count on.  Go Panthers! 24-10 Panthers

Freak’n Puerto Rican: Bucs +6  (Taking the Under) 

The Panthers are in prime position to come in at season’s end and take this division title. It seems for most of the year Panthers fans have been saying this week is a must win. Well this week the Panthers must lay it all on the line. If we don’t beat Tampa this week then the rest of the season will not matter. Derek Anderson will once again get the start versus the Bucs, just as in week one when Carolina visited Tampa. He played well enough for us to pick up the win and I expect he will do the same this Sunday.

The defense and running game featured last week against the Saints should be enough to carry the Panthers to a win. Anderson is a veteran of 10 seasons in the league and I trust him to make smart decisions and use the talented players around him when put into passing situations. But keeping the emphasis on running the ball will take some of the pressure off D.A. 

Defensively we need to stop the run and pressure McCown. Getting to him quickly will prevent those big receivers from getting down-field for big gains. If we can bring the same kind of pressure we did last week then this game should go according to plan. I do expect there to be some turnovers caused by the pressure. Our secondary looked the best it has all season last week and I look for the same effort from that group of young guns. Go Panthers. 14-10 Panthers 

The Commish: Panthers -6 (Taking the Over 42)

This has been one crazy season for the NFL as a whole - not just Carolina. I had finally thought the Panthers were about ready to roll over for the season, but with the NFC South being by FAR the worst division in the NFL this year, only the Bucs have been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. That’s where I think the difference lies in this game - the players on both sides know it, too. Carolina still has something to play for while the Bucs do not. I was critical of the Bucs going 100% offense in this year’s draft and it’s showing up on the field. Too bad they couldn’t get them a decent QB to go with Mike Evans. However, breaking news as I write this is that Cam Newton got in a car accident, so it might be that backup Derek Anderson starts. If that’s the case, this is the ONE team where it doesn’t hurt the Panthers against because he started Opening Day for an ailing Newton...and won the game at Tampa Bay.  30-17 Panthers