Friday 13 September, 01:20
Tampa Bay and Carolina both suffered defeats in their opening NFL fixtures, which should add extra pressure to Thursday night’s NFC South clash, which kicks off Week Two.
Panthers Dominate the Head to Head
This fixture has been played 37 times since the two sides met during the 1995 season, and the Carolina Panthers have had the better of it over the last 24 years.
All of those games have been played during the regular season, and the Panthers have won 23 to the Buccaneers’ 14, including nine of their last 12 meetings. Tampa Bay had more luck last season when they avenged a 42-28 defeat in Carolina in early November by beating their NFC South rivals 24-17 in Tampa Bay a month later, though they still finished fourth in the Division, with the Panthers third.
Winston Struggles Again
Tampa Bay’s re-shaped defense fared well against the San Francisco 49ers in their opening game last weekend, and the Buccaneers gave their fans hope when they led 7-6 at half-time. But a poor second-half performance from Jameis Winston saw them slip to a 31-17 defeat as they were outgunned. Winston is not helped by the Buccaneers’ poor offensive line, but his inability to get the past out of the tools at his disposal explains why they go into this game as 62/25 outsiders.
Tough Opener for Newton
Winston’s opposite number, Cam Newton, had a tough day at the office in the Panthers’ opening game, throwing an interception and a costly backwards pass, but a 30-27 defeat against last season’s NFC champions Los Angeles Rams is not a disaster, and there was plenty to like about the performance of the Panthers’ offense, particularly running-back Christian McCaffrey, who finished with two touchdowns, ten passes caught and 209 yards in total.
Panthers Tipped to Win
Is Newton fully recovered from his shoulder injury? He may not yet fully trust his shoulder, which could inhibit his performances to a degree, but even if he is operating at less than maximum efficiency, the Panthers have a more powerful offense than Tampa Bay, while being able to match the visitors defensively. Throw in the inconsistency of Jameis Winston and it’s not hard to see why bookmakers have Carolina as 4/11 favourites here.