The NFC South has the deepest talent at quarterback of any division in the NFL. After week one, only Drew Brees had a victory under his belt. Brees and the Saints spoiled Brady’s first game with the Bucs, while former Saint Teddy Bridgewater’s Panthers lost to the Las Vegas Raiders 30-34. On Sunday, Bridgewater and Brady will face off in an NFC South Division tilt, with the loser potentially being two games back early in the season.
Tom Brady’s first game with the Buccaneers was less than stellar. His second interception was a pick-six that took Tampa Bay away from their running game as they tried to keep up with the Saints offense. Brady’s top two projected targets Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski combined for just three receptions and 13 combined yards, revealing a lack of chemistry that a preseason could have helped develop. Brady did have an instant connection with Scottie Miller, though, and he engineered a game-opening touchdown drive that showed the potential potency of the Bucs offense.
Teddy Bridgewater had the more successful first start in a losing effort. Bridgewater’s 98.9 passer rating was the fifth-highest rating for a first game quarterback in team history, and he showed an instant connection with wideout Robby Anderson, while Christian McCaffery picked up where he left off last year with 96 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
The questions for Sunday’s matchup are can Brady develop some chemistry with his other weapons, and can the Panthers defense stop anyone.
The Buccaneers have gone from -8 up to -8.5 despite Carolina snatching up 52% of the bets.
The OU Line has gone from 48.5 down to 47.5, despite the Over getting the 75% of the bets.
Gametime Weather: Scattered thunderstorms with temps in the mid-80s.
Bridgewater Looks to Build on Strong PerformanceThe Carolina Panthers unveiled their scheme under new head coach Matt Rhule on Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders. The offense played turnover free football while picking up 6.0 yards per play. New quarterback Teddy Bridgewater finished 22-34 for 270 yards and a touchdown, with six of those completions going to Robby Anderson for 155 yards and a touchdown. Running back Christian McCaffery picked up 96 yards on 23 carries, adding two touchdowns in the losing effort. The Panthers also converted seven of 13 third downs on offense.
The biggest issue was the inexperienced secondary. Busted assignments by rookie cornerback Tony Pride led to a 45 yard reception by rookie Henry Ruggs III and a 23 yard touchdown reception by Nelson Agholor. Donte Jackson, Carolina’s top corner, also went down with an ankle injury during the game and is questionable for Sunday’s game. Raiders running back Josh Jacobs ran wild on the Panthers defense, scoring three touchdowns while picking up 93 rushing yards.
The young Panthers defense will get no breaks on Sunday as they face a Tampa Bay offense that boasts weapons all over the field. If the Panthers cannot contain the balanced Bucs offense and get off the field, it could be another very long afternoon.
Carolina’s Injury Report
Questionable: DT Kawann Short
Out: OT Dennis Daley, CB Eli Apple, WR Keith Kirkwood, and WR Omar Bayless
Brady, Offense Look to Improve From Saints LossBruce Arians is not interested in waiting several weeks for his offense to gain chemistry. That’s why the Bucs signed veteran superstar Tom Brady, who has made a career of developing chemistry with a revolving door of receivers. With Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, and Leonard Fournette teaming up with Brady, the Buccaneers offense looks explosive, at least on paper. But the NFL is not played on paper, and the entire offense struggled through most of their loss against the Saints.
Brady’s first drive showed a ton of promise. Ronald Jones II, not Fournette, got the lionshare of carries (17 rushes, 66 yards) in the game. Jones II runs set up play action for Brady and his receivers on the first drive, which resulted in a Brady rushing touchdown. However, turnovers, penalties, and bad chemistry hampered the Bucs the rest of the day. Brady threw two picks, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Janoris Jenkins. Brady’s favorite target was Scott Miller, who hauled in a team high five passes.
The Buccaneer's defense was respectable against the Saints, holding a potent offense to just 270 yards. Tampa Bay allowed 5-15 third-down conversions and kept Drew Brees’s passing totals under 200 yards. Despite that, the Bucs did not force a turnover and recorded only one sack in the contest.
The defense will have their hands full with a very efficient Teddy Bridgewater guiding an offense that features Christian McCaffery. If the Bucs can contain the run, they can get consistent pressure on Bridgewater.
Tampa Bay’s Injury Report
Questionable: WR Chris Godwin
Out: WR John Hurst
- Tampa Bay: 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games in Week 2
- Carolina: 1-4 ATS in last five road games
- Carolina: 0-6-1 ATS in their last 7 games on grass
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Many prognosticators predict a rebound by Tom Brady, and history supports that prediction. Brady should be sharper in his second game, but the key will be the Buccaneer run game. If the Panthers cannot contain Jones II and Fournette, then Brady will have a much easier time making throws to his targets. Carolina’s defense may be vulnerable, but so is Tampa’s. Carolina’s offense should present some issues for the Bucs, as Bridgewater has experience against Tampa’s personnel. In the end, Tampa wins, but the Panthers have a good chance to cover.
Prediction: Tampa Bay -9
Full-Game Total Pick
There is a reason that the totals have trended up this week. Both the Panthers and Buccaneers have potent offenses and suspect defenses, so it’s easy to predict a scorefest at Raymond James Stadium. The trends favor an OVER total, with six of Carolina’s last seven games and five of Tampa Bay’s last six home games all going OVER. If you like offense, watch this game on Sunday.
Prediction: OVER 49