Is there supposed to be some mystique about playing midseason home games off mega-short rest on Thursdays?
If so, Tampa Bay, which is one of two remaining winless teams this year, might be worth backing. However, home teams in this Thursday slot the past two seasons are 9-13 ATS, including 1-7 as an underdog.
A prime example is Minnesota’s 36-17 home demolition by Tampa Bay last season when the Bucs were a 6-point underdog. Only last week visiting Seattle was a 34-22 victor vs. Arizona, which was a 5-point underdog.
With that in mind, perhaps this line isn’t as steep as it deserves to be had the game been scheduled for any given Sunday. Anyway, on to a closer look at Thursday.
PRO FOOTBALL – THURSDAY, OCT. 24
Carolina Panthers (3-3 SU) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6)
Time: 5:20 p.m. PST
Line: Panthers by 6 (40½)
Facts: Coach Greg Schiano’s Bucs, who beat Carolina twice last season, held Atlanta to 18 yards rushing last week, one of the 10 lowest ground totals the past four years. Yet the Bucs still lost, 31-23.
• Carolina’s Cam Newton has had a passer rating better than 136.0 in each of his past two games, something no other QB has done this season. How tough is that? Peyton Manning has had such back-to-backs once in his life (2008).
• Tampa Bay has contributed to its death spiral by committing 10-plus penalties in a game three times this year, tied for most in the league.
• Bucs rookie QB Mike Glennon targeted WR Vincent Jackson a league season-high 22 times last week, connecting 10 times for 138 yards. No one else got more than five throws.
Analysis: One of the Bucs’ strengths this season was supposed to be a revamped secondary highlighted by the addition of CB Darrelle Revis. That unit, which has the league’s tenth worst defensive passer rating, yielded 10.6 yards a throw to Matt Ryan last week, the fourth highest rate by anyone in a game this year.
On offense, how will the Bucs replace Doug Martin (out, shoulder), who had been the league’s workhorse running back most of the season? Rookie sixth-round draft choice Mike James appears to be the guy.
This game already was likely going to be a mismatch with TB’s No. 31-rated offense against Carolina’s third-ranked defense, but now prospects have grown much worse.
Forecast: Panthers 27, Bucs 10
“Popular” Bob Christ has been forecasting NFL games for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in newspapers from coast to coast in Canada and the U.S. Contact him at [email protected].