The Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers square off in Charlotte Thursday evening to kick off Week 2. The NFC South could be a wild ride this season, so it’s fitting they get a Thursday Night Football showcase early in the season.
I said prior to the season that I thought the New Orleans Saints were due for some regression with Drew Brees potentially hitting the wall in the twilight of his career. Naturally, the Saints were the only NFC South team to win in Week 1 — albeit thanks to some late game madness. The Panthers and Atlanta Falcons are the two teams I felt would challenge New Orleans, but the Bucs are an intriguing team with the addition of Bruce Arians this offseason.
Arians has done wonders with offenses, and the thought was he could help Jameis Winston get his career back on track. Week 1 was not an ideal start, with Winston throwing a pair of pick-sixes — including the game clincher late in a critical spot. And it’s that reason that I am uncomfortable putting any money on the Bucs for the time being.
The Panthers opened as a six-point favorite, but the line has climbed to a full touchdown as kickoff approaches. Both teams are relatively healthy, with Panthers tight end Greg Olsen questionable with a back injury, but expected to play.
With no significant health issues, for me it comes down to Jameis Winston. With the line at seven, I would not begrudge you passing on this game. The Panthers at six made a lot more sense. That being said, if you’re going to bet this game, you should stick with the Panthers. They’re the better team, and should have won last week against a quality Rams team. Cam Newton is the decidedly better quarterback, and that could prove the difference.
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