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Carolina takes on Tampa Bay in an NFC South matchup on Sunday from London for a 9:30amET kickoff. This game will be played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which offers a retractable grass pitch that slides to become a synthetic turf for the NFL. This will be the second meeting of the season between the two divisional rivals. In the first meeting from Carolina, the Bucs were victorious, 20-14. Tampa Bay has won the last two games after losing three straight.
Since that loss to the Bucs, the Panthers have won three straight with backup quarterback Kyle Allen at the helm. The Bucs are coming off a 31-24 road loss at New Orleans. The Bucs are 2-3 and have had a difficult schedule, featuring the LA Rams (55-40 win), Carolina and San Francisco (31-17 loss). Their weakest opponent was the New York Giants and they fell to them at home, 32-21 on Sept.22.
Allen lifting PanthersIs Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen a better quarterback than Cam Newton? Allen has yet to lose a starter and has a 107.4 passer rating with 674 yards (5 TDs) through three games. Last season, he started one game and completed 64.5% of his passes for 266 yards. Of course, Newton is a former NFL MVP and has been really banged up with numerous injuries so Allen appears to be better than the banged-up version.
"Some of the things they’re doing – they’re doing a lot more motions, a lot more screens [and] a lot more quick passing than they were doing,” Head Coach Bruce Arians said of the Panthers offense with Kyle Allen at the helm. “The jet motions and the sweeps and things, getting [Christian] McCaffrey out in space – which they had done a little bit against the Rams when we broke them down – but he [Kyle Allen] is an accurate passer. He’s playing really well.”
The Panthers are coming off a 34-27 home win over Jacksonville (with another backup QB in Gardner Minshew). Allen wasn't sensational, completing 17 of 30 for 181 yards but did not turn the ball over. Fortunately, he has Christian McCaffrey on offense doing the dirty work. The former Stanford star ruan for 176 yards with two TDs on 19 attempts, including an 84-yard run. He also caught six passes for 61 yards and a score.
McCaffrey leads the NFL with 587 rushing yards and adds 31 catches for 279 receiving yards. Right now, he's the best all-around back in the NFL.
The defense has been opportunistic as of late, with 16 sacks in the last three games (all wins). They forced three fumbles against the Jaguars including a 56-yard fumble recovery for a score from Brian Burns, early in the second quarter. The Panthers are allowing just 197 passing yards per game, but 134 rushing yards (4.9ypc).
In terms of injuries, Newton is not expected to play until late November due to a foot injury.
What did the Panthers learn from their week two loss to the Bucs?
“As deceiving as Tampa Bay’s reputation may be this season, their run defense is the real deal, ranking third in the league in rushing yards allowed.
‘This is a good defense,” guardGreg Van Rotensaid. “They’re no joke. They play really well, they’re fast, they’re aggressive, agile. They’re kind of scary to look at up front, honestly.’”
Despite loss, Winston is getting betterTampa Bay is coming off a 31-24 loss to New Orleans last week and their defense allowed Teddy Bridgewater to complete 26 of 34 for 314 yards with four TDs (and a pick). Star wide receiver Michael Thomas also had a big game for the Saints with 11 catches for 182 yards with two scores. That's the disappointing part of a team that can't seem to stop anybody. The Saints had issues scoring without Drew Brees and Bridgewater was doing a fine job managing the game. The Bucs also couldn't sustain a running game again the Saints (94 yards on 22 attempts) and Jameis Winston was ordinary, going 15-of-27 for 204 yards and a TD.
Defensively, Tampa Bay now has the worst pass defense, yielding 323.6 yards per game, much worse than Miami's (296.3ypg). They do rank second in the league in run defense, allowing just 69.8 yards per game, which is a positive factor when facing McCaffrey.
Winston has been good this season, tossing for 1,371 yards with 11 TDs and five picks with a 97.2 passer rating. After a disastrous opening game against San Francisco where he threw three picks, Winston has 10 touchdowns and just two picks over his last two games. The running game hasn't quite gotten underway as the Bucs are averaging 3.9 yards per carry and 109.4 yards per game. Ronald Jones is the top back with 269 yards and one TDs. Peyton Barber is more of a power back with 214 yards and three TDs.
On the injury front, DT Ndamukong Suh (knee) did not participate in practice on Wednesday. He did play 54 snaps last week against the Saints, so they could be just limiting him.
Tampa Bay is:
- 0-5-1 ATS last 6 on turf.
- 0-4 ATS last 4 in Week 6.
- 1-8-1 ATS last 10 in October.
- 5-1 ATS last 6 on the road in series.
- Road team is 6-1 ATS last 7 in series.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This is a road team for Carolina, but not really. In the first game, Newton played and completed just 25 of 51 for 333 yards. The Bucs did stop the run, but Newton was obviously not himself. Allen gives the Panthers a better shot right now and their defense has been just getting after the quarterback lately. That's not a good sign for Winston and the Bucs. Carolina gets revenge for the loss in September thanks to a better game from McCaffrey and Allen's accuracy. It will also help Carolina's running game with Suh banged up or not playing.
Prediction: Carolina -2.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The first game went under by far and in the last seven meetings, six have gone under. Before playing the Jags, the Panthers gave up just 10 points at Houston and 20 at Arizona, before the first Bucs game. Obviously, the Bucs are not great against the pass, but the Panthers are averaging just 226.4 yards in the air. They average 143.6 yards on the ground but that also plays into the Bucs' strength. This should be a similar score to the last game, with Carolina scoring the most points this time.
Prediction: Under 47