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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers - 9/7/14 NFL Pick and Odds

Carolina Panthers (12-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)

NFL Football: Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 4:25 pm (Raymond James Stadium)

The Line: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1 -- Over/Under: 39.5 See the Latest Odds

TV: FOX

The Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers play Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium.

The Carolina Panthers enter the season as one of the best teams in the NFC and hope to get off to a fast start with a road victory. One of the concerns in this game is the health of quarterback Cam Newton, who suffered a rib injury but says there’s no doubt he will participate in this matchup. Assuming Newton is healthy for this game, he’s going to have to find more offensive weapons, as the Panthers are counting on journeyman Jerricho Cotchery and rookie Kelvin Benjamin at wide receiver. The Carolina Panthers were 29th in the NFL last season in passing yards and have to find reliable guys on the outside to improve that number. Defensively the Panthers are one of the best in the league with Charles Johnson and Luke Kuechly holding down the fort.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers - 9/7/14 NFL Pick and Odds

USA TODAY Sports

Despite losing three of four games in the preseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope this is a bounce back season with Lovie Smith at head coach. The Buccaneers should be an improved team offensively with Doug Martin returning at running back and with the addition of rookie wide receiver Mike Evans. The only question I have on offense for the Bucs is whether a quarterback combination of Josh McCown and Mike Glennon is really the answer for their offense to take a step forward. Defense is what kept the Tampa Bay Buccaneers relevant last season and that shouldn’t change much with Gerald McCoy rushing the passer and the addition Alterraun Verner in the secondary.

The Panthers are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games in Week 1 and 6-2 ATS in their last 8 vs. NFC South. The Buccaneers are 13-29-1 ATS in their last 43 home games and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall. The favorite is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 meetings.

I’m a little worried about Newton’s health and how effective he’ll be in this game, but I still feel like Carolina has enough to pull off the victory. If anything, Carolina’s defense will lead the way to close win.

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Carolina Panthers +1

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