Sitting 6-2 three weeks ago and surging towards the playoffs, the Carolina Panthers are now 6-5 and fighting for their playoff lives. A division title is lost as the New Orleans Saints (10-1) are running away with the NFC South and four games clear of the second place Panthers. Carolina is now in a 3-way tie for the second and final NFC wild card spot, but the Panthers should bounce back and explode on offense against the deficient defense of Tampa Bay as a slight road favorite in NFL Week 13 betting.

Carolina Panthers (6-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)
Sunday Dec. 2nd – Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL – 4:00pm ET
NFL Week 13 Betting Line: Carolina -3.0 (55.5)

The Buccaneers enter off a 27-9 beatdown of the 49ers 27-9. Careless and mistake prone QB Jameis Winston had his best game of the season passing for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns without an interception. That’s a surprise of course, as Winston has thrown at least one interception in his other five starts and 11 INTs this season. Then again, the 49ers have the fewest interceptions (2) and takeaways (5) in the NFL. Ryan Fitzpatrick has 12 interceptions this season as well, but a better QB rating and more touchdown passes (17) than Winston (10). But the Bucs are going to squeeze out every last dime they (poorly) invested in this quarterback, who could be playing his final games for Tampa Bay. He’ll be a desired quarterback if he hits the market, but coach Dirk Koetter won’t be retained either as his main appeal to ownership was his connection to Winston.

Panthers and Buccaneers Match-up Stats

The Bucs have the league’s worst turnover margin (-21), and while a correction is normally in order, you can’t count on that with Winston firing football’s into coverage and opponents’ hands. Still, Koetter has designed an offense that moves the ball and plays at a faster pace, as the Bucs 68.5 plays per game is second most in the league. The Bucs lead the league with 454.3 yards per game and even more over their last three contests. At 6.6 yards per play, the Buccaneers offense is efficient despite having a nearly non-existent run game.

Both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers have a solid shot to exceed 400 yards offense, which makes the OVER appealing even with a high number to hit in NFL Week 13 betting lines. Carolina’s read option offense is averaging 6.1 yards per play and 370.7 yards per game, and the rushing attack with Christian McCaffrey and QB Cam Newton averages a league best 5.3 yards per rush and No. 3 with 138.4 rushing yards per game. Newton has accounted for multiple touchdowns in 10 straight games, and the Panthers are a clear OVER team. Playing the Bucs with their high-efficient offense and deficient, injury-ravaged defense that ranks bottom five in the league sets up lots of scoring opportunities.

Panthers and Buccaneers Betting Trends

The Buccaneers have covered seven straight as a home underdog, but there’s a dazzling ATS situation that definitively supports the Panthers in NFL Week 13 betting: teams at .500 or greater coming off 3 or more losses and playing an opponent off a win are 42-22-1 ATS since 1996. If this is a division game, the system goes to 20-3 ATS including 18-5 SU. That supports the Panthers, and we concur with the expected dominance at the point of attack running the ball and balancing the offense with QB Cam passing and producing profit for Carolina bettors.

In the Nov. 4 matchup in Week 9, Carolina won 42-28 after building a 35-7 lead. Winston did not even play for Tampa Bay that game, as Fitzpatrick passed 40 times for 243 yards and 4 touchdowns. Winston failed in last year’s match-up against the Panthers on this field passing for 210 yards and 2 interceptions without a touchdown. He’ll be better this week in another shootout but the Bucs’ will be tested often by Newton and the Panthers, and a passing grade isn’t in the cards.

NFL Week 13 Picks – Carolina -3.0 and OVER


Fairway Jay is a professional handicapper based out of Las Vegas. He focuses primarily on the four majors along with college football and college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.