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NFL Betting Carolina at Tampa Bay

October 11, 2008

NFL Football Betting - Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday 1:00 PM ET)

Carolina comes into this game with a solid 4-1 record but I don't think the Panthers are a 4-1 team. They were very fortunate to win their opener against San Diego on the last play of the game and the next week, they were also fortunate to mount a big comeback against the Bears.

The last two weeks have been wins over Atlanta and Kansas City so while they were easy, they are hardly impressive. And, they were both at home so now it is back on the road where it is 2-4 its last six games dating back to last season.

The Buccaneers had their two-game winning streak snapped at Denver last Sunday and it marked just the first time in their last four games that they were outgained. Even though it was a loss, it was a good loss if there is such a thing.

They held the Broncos to a season-low 16 points which was less than half of their 33.3 ppg average heading into last weekend. Tampa Bay has something to prove as Carolina has won eight of the last 10 meetings and has reeled off five consecutive victories at Raymond James Stadium.

The Carolina defense has been outstanding this season and has gotten better as the weeks have progressed. The problem is that the offenses they have faced have gotten progressively worse.

Tampa Bay is 7th in the NFL in total offense and I think they get even better this week. Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden confirmed on Friday that Jeff Garcia will start and I think that helps the offense immensely. Last Sunday, Garcia shook off the rust and marched the Bucs 90-yards for the Bucs' only touchdown.

On the other side, the Panthers are banged up along the offensive line. Three starting Carolina offensive linemen missed practice this week as Jordan Gross, Jeff Otah and Ryan Kalil all sat out. The former two could return but not close to 100 percent.

Facing the Chiefs at home while being down two linemen was one thing but facing Tampa Bay on the road with three linemen down is something totally different. The Buccaneers defense is down from last season but that Denver game brings in confidence.

The recent games last week sets Tampa Bay up in a great spot. Play against all teams where the line is +3 to -3 after they allowed six points or less going up against an opponent coming a loss by three points or less.

This situation is 24-4 ATS (85.7 percent) with the average point differential being +7.2 ppg in those 28 games. This is a tough place for the Panthers as Tampa Bay is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 home games and will look to snap that five game home skid in this series.

Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1 (-110) available at BodogLife.

- Matt Fargo of Sportscapping.com

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