Bucs vs. Panthers Free Pick
The Panthers are a double-digit favorite to beat the Buccaneers today and secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff race. But they're also severely banged up.
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Mybookie.ag, the Panthers are 10.5-point favorites over the Buccaneers while the total currently sits at 45.5 points. While the side hasn't experienced any movement, the total has dropped a full point-and-a-half after it opened at 47.
Carolina is 10-5 against the spread this season but failed to cover the number in three of its last four games, with the lone cover coming in a 38-0 beat-down of Atlanta as an 8.5-point home favorite in Week 14. Ironically, the last time Tampa Bay covered the spread also came at home versus Atlanta, but the Bucs have failed to cover the number in their three games since their 23-19 victory over the Falcons in Week 13.
The Panthers will be missing both their bellcow back Jonathan Stewart (foot), their No. 1 wide receiver Ted Ginn (knee), impact safety Kurt Coleman (foot), and one of their backup running backs in Fozzy Whittaker (foot).
Seeing as how the Bucs defense is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 69.5 percent of their passes (which is the highest mark in the NFL), Cam Newton should still have success moving the ball through the air. Fortunately for Newton, tight end Greg Olsen will be active today.
But Atlanta was able to shut down Carolina's running game last week and without Ginn, the homerun was absent from the Panthers' passing attack as well. The Falcons were able to control the clock for 35:38, compared to the Panthers' TOP of 24:22, which also contributed to Atlanta holding Carolina to just 13 total points.
Chances are the Panthers will hold the Bucs offense in check, but if Tampa Bay can have some measure of success on the ground with Doug Martin then this should not be a high-scoring game. The under is 11-4 in the last 15 meetings between these two teams in Carolina.
NFL WEEK 17 FREE PICK: BUCS/PANTHERS UNDER 45.5