Scott Shapiro's Thursday night NFL preview: Tampa Bay at Carolina

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September 11th, 2019

A Thursday-night win in Chicago, a split with my Six Pack (including a “Best Bet” winner with Indianapolis) and a sweep of the Monday night doubleheader paved the way to a 6-3 record with my selections against the number in Week 1 on BetAmerica. Hopefully things will continue to go well in Week 2.

The second week of action gets rolling with an NFC South contest between teams that got their campaigns started with a home loss. However, one squad played well in defeat, while the other was sloppy and unimpressive.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
+6.5 (-105)
Over 50 (-105)
Carolina Panthers
-6.5 (-115)
Under 50 (-115)

Panthers played well in defeat

Carolina lost its opener in Charlotte, but played one of the better games among the losing teams in Week 1. The Panthers defense gave up 30 points Sunday, but they did a great job of preventing big plays from one of the league’s best offenses. The Rams eventually wore down the Carolina defense with their running game and great play calling from head coach Sean McVay, but it appears Ron Rivera’s group is ready to rebound after a down year on that side of the ball in 2018.

On offense the Panthers impressed, as well. The most notable effort was from the offensive line, which neutralized reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. Donald regularly wreaks havoc on opposing offenses, but in the 2019 opener, Carolina was able to hold him to just one tackle. They Panthers were also able to open sizeable holes for star running back Christian McCaffrey, who rushed for 128 yards on 19 carries. This bodes well for their chances to move the ball Thursday night against a much weaker Tampa Bay unit.

Tampa made frequent mistakes at home

Carolina’s effort was much more encouraging than its Week 2 opponent, which did all it could to be a courteous host to the San Francisco 49ers. The Buccaneers lost 31-17 at Raymond James Stadium in head coach Bruce Arians' first game at the helm.

The offense that was supposed to be new and improved under the veteran offensive coach turned the ball over four times, but it could have easily been six if Niners defenders had better hands. On defense Tampa failed to put significant pressure on San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and had no answer for tight end George Kittle. If it were not for silly penalties from the Niners offense, the score would have looked much worse.

The Bucs now must travel on short rest to take on a team that badly needs to avoid an 0-2 start home if it hopes to get back to the playoffs.

Look for Carolina’s offensive line to give quarterback Cam Newton time to find Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore and open holes for McCaffrey, who figures to have a big game against one of the league’s worst defenses. Tampa’s offense should be better than it was in Week 1, assuming quarterback Jameis Winston values the ball better than he did in the season opener, but I expect the Panthers offense to be far too much for the Bucs to handle.

Pick: Carolina (-6.5)

Scott Shapiro’s 2019 NFL record ATS on BetAmerica (6-3)

Thursday night is just the beginning. Check out BetAmerica for all of the NFL's Week 2 action!