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Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL Betting Odds, Preview and Pick

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 26:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers plays against the New York Jets during their preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 26, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
OddsShark.comFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2012

What do you get when you add the worst Week 1 ATS team of the past decade and the second-worst Week 1 ATS team?

You get a Carolina vs. Tampa Bay clash where handicappers are throwing darts at the board and oddsmakers aren't touching the spread.

Carolina is 2-7 ATS in their past nine season openers, and they remain 2.5- to 3-point road favorites at Tampa Bay, which comes in on a 3-8 ATS run in Week 1 games since 2001.

"There is a solid majority of wagering action on Cam Newton's Panthers, but there is also a lot riding on the total, which has been a very one-sided bet when these teams meet," said Jack Randall, handicapping analyst at OddsShark.com.

"Our matchup report shows that seven of the last eight meetings here in Tampa Bay have been OVERs."

Looking to take their place atop the AFC South alongside the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet in a key division rivalry game this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay.

Who says that rookie quarterbacks need a few years to develop?

Certainly not Cam Newton, who took the league by storm in 2011 with over 4,000 passing yards and 35 total touchdowns. Carolina’s 6-10 straight-up (9-7 ATS) record was a big step in the right direction last season.

But the Panthers are hoping that Newton’s play will lead to even more wins this season. Now that defenses know what to expect from the talented young QB, will he hit a sophomore slump, or is the best yet to come?

There weren’t many bright spots in last year’s 4-12 straight up and ATS campaign. Josh Freeman regressed after a strong year in 2010, and there weren’t many positives on either side of the ball.

Active in the free agent market this season, Tampa Bay brought in Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark to give Freeman some new weapons to throw to. The Buccaneers also drafted talented running back Doug Martin.

If the offense can click, the results could be apparent right away.

Carolina has owned Tampa Bay in recent years, with a 5-2 straight up and ATS record over the last seven games. Cam Newton took it to the next level though, leading Carolina to two huge wins over Tampa Bay last year, in which the Panthers outscored the Buccaneers 86-35.

Neither team is expected to challenge the Saints in the NFC South preseason odds menu.

Tampa Bay may take some positive strides this season, but it will probably take the offense a few weeks to find a rhythm. And after being shredded last season by Cam Newton and company, Tampa Bay really hasn’t done enough on defense to leave us expecting different results this week.

PICK: Carolina -2.5 (courtesy of PickShark.com)

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