The Tampa Bay Buccaneers swept the season series last year from the Carolina Panthers. Carolina is favored big to return the favor when the teams meet Sunday in Charlotte.
Point spread: Panthers opened as 10.5-point favorites; the total was 41.5. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 27.5-14.5 Panthers
Why the Buccaneers can cover the spread
After losing its first eight games of this season, several in tough fashion, Tampa has won its last three games in a row. Most recently, the Bucs picked off Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford four times, returning one for a score and icing the game with another in their 24-21 upset of the Lions.
The Bucs have covered the spread four games in a row, as rookie QB Mike Glennon has thrown just one interception in that span.
Why the Panthers can cover the spread
Carolina has won seven games in a row, covered six of them, ranks ninth in the league in rushing, third in total defense, third against the run and first in points allowed at less than 14 per game. Then, in a pinch Sunday at Miami, QB Cam Newton led the Panthers on an 80-yard game-winning drive, culminating in a TD toss to TE Greg Olson for a 20-16 victory.
The Panthers are also 6-1 ATS in seven recent divisional games, showing their improving toughness as a group in rivalry games.
Odds Shark's predictor computer is calling for a Carolina victory and cover in a game that plays OVER its total. The Panthers are clicking. They're running the ball with authority, beating people up on defense and, when in doubt, they can turn to Newton for big plays.
Carolina beat Tampa a month ago 31-13 and, while the Bucs are improving, expect a similar result Sunday.
- Bucs 6-0 ATS past six as double-digit road underdogs
- Panthers are 6-1 ATS past seven divisional games