That might not bode well for the Panthers, who are just 1-4, both straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) the last five times they've been favored on the road. But they get a break with Doug Martin declared inactive for the Bucs.
Point spread: Panthers opened as 3-point favorites; the total was 39.5. (Line updates and Matchup report)
Computer Prediction: 25.6-10.1 Panthers
Why the Panthers can cover the spread
Carolina has scored 65 points in winning its last two games, as Newton has accounted for five touchdowns and no turnovers. Meanwhile, the Panthers' defense has given up two touchdowns over the two games and ranks third overall in the league. Tampa swept the season series last year, so the Panthers might have a little revenge in mind for Sunday with a chance to climb over .500.
The Bucs have been home patsies as underdogs at 5-17-1 ATS in 23 games in this role, according to the OddsShark.com searchable NFL database.
Why the Bucs can cover the spread
Tampa is 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS this season, but might not be that bad. The Bucs have lost three games on late field goals and spotted Atlanta a fumble-return touchdown last week on the Falcons' way to a 31-23 win. Tampa also led Philly at halftime before losing by 11.
As mentioned above Tampa swept two games from Carolina last year, holding the Panthers to a total of 31 points. The Bucs face a Panthers team that has struggled on the road this season.
The OddsShark NFL predictor computer is calling for Carolina to win and cover, and the game to play under on the total. This is a big game for the Panthers, who haven't done well on the road lately, but a win here gets them to 4-3 and in the playoff hunt.
Tampa, meanwhile, is a team without an identity at the moment after making the change at quarterback from Josh Freeman to rookie Mike Glennon. Go with the computer and Carolina.
Carolina is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games on the road
Tampa Bay is 4-2 ATS in its last six games against Carolina