The Carolina Panthers (5-2) will go for their third consecutive win on Sunday when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) as solid home favorites at sportsbooks in a key NFC South matchup.
The Panthers have beaten the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens in their last two games while the Buccaneers have dropped four of five.
NFL point spread: The Panthers opened as 5.5-point favorites; the total was 53.5 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
NFL betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 35.0-20.1 Panthers (NFL picks on every game)
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Tampa Bay has switched back to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick under center after Jameis Winston threw four interceptions in last week’s 37-34 road loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
That loss could end up being costly to the team’s playoff chances, but Fitzpatrick did rally the Buccaneers from a 34-16 deficit at the end of the third quarter to tie the game at 34-34 with one minute and five seconds left before the Bengals won it on a field goal with no time remaining.
The Carolina defense is tough, but the move to Fitzpatrick again seems to give Tampa Bay the best chance to win—and cover the spread—right now.
The Panthers have won four of their last five games to put themselves within striking distance of the New Orleans Saints for first place in the NFC South.
The Saints have a huge showdown with the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams on Sunday as well, so a win over the Buccaneers and loss by them would tie them for the division lead.
Carolina is also riding a nine-game home winning streak, with the average margin of victory sitting at nearly nine points. Tampa Bay has won at Bank of American Stadium only once in the previous five seasons, too, so the odds are against that scenario happening again here.
Winning and covering the spread are obviously two different things, especially when the line is nearly a touchdown. The Buccaneers are 3-1 ATS in their last four trips to Charlotte, including three straight-up losses by three points or less, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.
Like bettors saw last week, Fitzpatrick can definitely keep the game close and cover even if his team does not win. Take Tampa to cover again.
The total has gone under in the Buccaneers’ last four games versus the Panthers.
The total has gone under in 11 of the Panthers’ last 15 games versus their division at home.
The Buccaneers are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games as underdogs.
All NFL odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagramor head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week’s top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.