The Carolina Panthers are scheduled to play the host Tampa Bay Bucs early Sunday in Week 17 of the 2022 NFL season with first place at stake in the NFC South.
Panthers vs. Bucs Betting Lines: Point Spread, Totals, Moneyline
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NFL · Sun (1/1) @ 1:00pm ET
|Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida|
Where the Panthers, Bucs Stand Heading Into Week 17
Tampa Bay (7-8) can secure the division crown with a victory. But if Carolina (6-9) wins, it would tie the Bucs for the lead but own the head-to-head tiebreaker and could clinch next week with a win at New Orleans, a team the Panthers defeated 22-14 in Week 3.
This will be a rematch of the Week 7 Bucs-Panthers meeting in Charlotte, NC when Carolina and newly inserted backup QB PJ Walker earned a 21-3 win over Tampa Bay as a 13-point underdog. That came only days after the Panthers traded former All-Pro RB Christian McCaffrey to San Francisco and two weeks after firing head coach Matt Rhule and replacing him with interim boss Steve Wilks.
That was the biggest upset in the league this season and matches the most lopsided defeat for a double-digit favorite in the past four years. And in that victory, Walker had the best passer rating in his limited three-year career at 126.5. Only two weeks later, he had a 0.0 reading against Cincinnati before getting yanked midgame.
These days, QB Sam Darnold, who missed the early portion of the season with a high ankle sprain, is in charge. He has led Carolina to a 3-1 mark since returning on Nov. 27.
Tampa Bay, which is a league-worst 3-11-1 against the spread, is coming off its second comeback victory from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter in the past four weeks. On Monday night, the Bucs rallied from a 16-6 hole at Arizona to win 19-16 in OT. Three weeks earlier, also on a Monday night, they trailed New Orleans 16-3 before scoring two TDs in the final three minutes to win 17-16 at home.
Carolina (8-7 ATS) had an even more impressive performance at home last week in snapping Detroit’s three-game winning streak, 37-23, as a 2-point dog. In the process, the Panthers rushed for 320 yards, the second most by any team this season. Chuba Hubbard ran for 165 yards and D’Onta Foreman had 125, the first time this season that two running backs (excluding QBs) eclipsed 100 yards in the same game.
Also, Carolina’s 570 yards of total offense was tops in the NFL for any game that didn’t go to overtime.
Now, though, the Panthers head out on the road, where they have gone only 1-5 this season. The Bucs are 4-4 at home.
Outside of his late-game heroics in the past month, Bucs QB Tom Brady has struggled, throwing two INTs in each of his past three games. And he ranks only 22nd on the passer-rating chart. Then there’s the running game, which averages league lows of 3.4 yards a carry and 77 a game.
For Carolina, Darnold has the best passer rating of his five-year career (104.3 — albeit in only four games), but he’d rank fourth on the QB chart in that category if he had enough passes thrown.
The running game has fluctuated wildly. Before last week’s outburst, the Panthers had only 21 rush yards versus Pittsburgh. That ties for the second fewest by any team this year. The team that had the worst total was Tampa Bay at KC in Week 4, getting 3 yards on six carries.
Panthers vs. Bucs Injuries
Injuries could be too much to overcome for the Bucs despite being favorites at home.
The offensive line has been beaten up since training camp when they lost their center and a guard for the season. Now both tackles are listed as questionable.
Plus, RB Leonard Fournette just revealed he’s been dealing with a Lisfranc injury that has hampered his performances. And, if run-stuffing DT Vita Vea (questionable) has to miss his third straight game with a calf injury, this could be another big day for Carolina’s RBs.
On the defensive side, the pass defense has been vulnerable, giving up 24 scoring passes, which is tied for sixth most entering Week 17.
In addition to Walker’s career-best game, Pittsburgh’s Mitch Trubisky had his best outing in three years versus Tampa Bay in Week 7. And three weeks ago, San Francisco rookie Brock Purdy threw for two scores and no INTs in his starting debut as the 49ers won, 35-7. His passer rating of 134.0 is the best by anyone in the past four weeks.
These aren’t the same Bucs that won the Super Bowl two years ago.
Forecast: Panthers 23, Bucs 14