Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Prediction, Odds, Depth Charts (12/3/23)

The Carolina Panthers are head down to Tampa Bay this week for an NFC South clash on Sunday (12/3/23). Get Panthers vs. Buccaneers odds, picks and predictions below as our best bet is Buccaneers -5.5.

Panthers vs Buccaneers Prediction

While the motivations are quite different, both of these teams desperately need to win this ballgame. The Panthers, who appear on the surface to be tanking but do not own their first round pick, have finally fired head coach Frank Reich after falling to a record of 1-10. Of course, it could be said that Reich was unfairly scapegoated as he was saddled with Bryce Young after reportedly voicing a preference for CJ Stroud, who has been phenomenal, but the coaching this year has been poor; this was the right move, given the situation.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has stepped into the role of interim head coach, and it’s hard not to wonder if he’ll be a beneficiary of the interim coach bump we’ve seen this year and in seasons past. After such a tepid start to the year, Carolina definitely won’t be any worse under Tabor, and there’s a real chance that a change in leadership will provide the jolt this team needs to at least show some semblance of life. This season is lost, but with a young core centered around their rookie QB, some positive momentum heading into next season could make a huge difference for the Panthers.

As for the Buccaneers, they have avoided the tank allegations and while they’ve fallen on hard times a bit, they’re still alive in the race for the NFC South title. They’re just a game behind both the Saints and Falcons, and the head to head tiebreakers are both still up for grabs, so even with a 4-7 record, there’s plenty to play for over the next month or so for Tampa.

Baker Mayfield has continued his up-and-down play, which is probably more than was expected of him this year, considering the very existence of the “up” stretches, while the team’s real strength has often been defense. That being said, there have been issues for Tampa on both sides of the ball of late, as they’ve won just one of their past seven games.

Still, they’ve had some promising results- a three-point loss to the Falcons, a defeat of less than a touchdown to the Bills, a two-point heartbreaker against Houston, and most recently, a one-score loss against the Colts. This isn’t a completely uncompetitive team- they have been right in the thick of just about every game they’ve played, barring a contest with the 49ers, and they should get back on track with this one.

The Tampa defense hasn’t been at its best over the past few weeks, but the unit is more than equipped to completely shut down a Panthers offense that ranks 30th in the league in DVOA. The Buccaneers’ offense has been a bit hit-or-miss, but with Carolina’s greatest strength- its secondary- depleted by injuries, they should have a nice day as well.

Panthers vs Buccaneers Prediction: Buccaneers -5.5

Panthers vs Buccaneers Best Odds

The Bucs are favorites of almost a touchdown with a spread of 5.5, or -250 on the moneyline. The Panthers are +200 to win, and both sides of the total of 37 are set at -110.

Panthers vs Buccaneers Key Injuries

Veteran linebacker Lavonte David did not practice on Wednesday, while his partner Devin White was limited. Meanwhile, just about the entire Panthers secondary is on the injury report, headlined by Vonn Bell and Jaycee Horn.

Panthers vs Buccaneers Key Matchups

With a tough run defense on the other side, the Panthers are going to need to get something going through the air, while the Bucs will look to test a tough Carolina secondary as well.

Panthers Passing Offense vs. Buccaneers Air Defense

Young has struggled tremendously in year one as an NFL passer, but he’s going to have to find a way to succeed in this game; Tampa’s rush defense is third in EPA, but their air prevention unit is just 27th. Adam Thielen has been the definite centerpiece for the Carolina air game, with 77 catches, 728 yards and four scores, all of which are team highs, the former two of which are squad bests by quite a wide margin. Carolina’s o-line also ranks 28th in adjusted sack rate, which isn’t helping Young’s case either.

The Tampa defense has a real problem, they rank third in blitz rate yet just 24th in pressure rate, so they’re sacrificing men in coverage and not being rewarded with QB hits. Safety Antoine Winfield has been great as per usual this year, but nobody else in the secondary has been particularly helpful around him.

Buccaneers Passing Offense vs. Panthers Air Defense

Perhaps Mayfield’s relative resurgence shouldn’t be as surprising as it has been to some. Mike Evans is still one of the best wideouts in the game, with 850 yards and nine scores already, as he’s putting together one of his best seasons yet. Chris Godwin hasn’t been quite as prolific, but he’s been a great second option, and on top of that talented duo, Mayfield is behind PFF’s sixth-favorite pass blocking offensive line this season, anchored by star tackle Tristan Wirfs.
Carolina’s air defense has been one of their greatest strengths, as it recently ranked right around league-average in terms of DVOA, due to the great job done by coordinator Ejiro Evero. Unfortunately, they’ve been bitten by the injury bug, and are now down to 22nd in the same metric. It’s hard to succeed with your entire secondary on the injury support, but Jaycee Horn has been practicing in a limited capacity but could make his return from the IR in the coming weeks, unless Carolina simply opts to shut him down in a lost season.

Panthers Depth Chart

QB: Bryce Young
RB1: Miles Sanders
RB2: Chuba Hubbard
LWR: D.J. Chark Jr.
RWR: Adam Thielen
SWR: Jonathan Mingo
TE1: Hayden Hurst

Buccaneers Depth Chart

QB: Baker Mayfield
RB1: Rachaad White
RB2: Sean Tucker
LWR: Mike Evans
RWR: Trey Palmer
SWR: Chris Godwin
TE1: Cade Otton

North Carolina Sports Betting Update

While North Carolina regulators are not in a position to launch sports betting prior to the 2024 Super Bowl, there is a chance that residents of the Tar Heel state will be able to begin wagering on sports ahead of March Madness. For up-to-date information on the legal state of sports betting, check out Lineups.com’s North Carolina sports betting page. When North Carolina does launch individuals will be able to bet on everything from spread bets to player props to same game parlays and more. Each app slated to launch in the state will also offer a new user bonus to all prospective bettors. The earliest North Carolina will launch is briefly after the Super Bowl and the latest is June of 2024.

From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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