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Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Odds & Game Pick (2022)

by January 7, 2022
Ronald Jones

The collapsing Carolina Panthers wrap up their regular season with a trip to central Florida for a rematch with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It feels like years ago that the Panthers actually started the season 3-0. Clearly, that start was a mirage, as Carolina’s lack of talent and abysmal quarterback play has them at 5-11 and playing for nothing.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are getting poised for another Super Bowl run and have clinched the NFC South division. Currently positioned as the No. 3 seed in the NFC, Tampa can move up to the No. 2 seed with a win and a Rams loss.

Should we back Brady and the Bucs as big home favorites. Or is Carolina worth a look in their season finale? Let’s break it down:

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Panthers are a dumpster fire 

Carolina enters this game riding a six-game losing streak. Their last win was a ridiculously fluky blowout win over a Kyler Murray-less Arizona team.

While the Panthers defense is respectable, the bottom has fallen out for this offense. They’ve used Sam Darnold, P.J. Walker, and a washed up Cam Newton at quarterback, and none of them have been effective. The Panthers rank 30th in offensive DVOA and dead last in passing DVOA.

While the lack of competent quarterback play and the absence of Christian McCaffrey hurts big, Carolina’s biggest problem is its offensive line. The Panthers rank 25th in adjusted line yards and have given up the fourth-most sacks in the league. That could spell disaster against a dominant Buccaneers front seven.

Carolina’s defense has kept the team in games. They’re 12th in overall defensive DVOA, 15th in pass defense DVOA and 17th in run defense DVOA.

Buccaneers just need to get out of this game healthy 

Tampa Bay’s biggest obstacles right now are health and the Antonio Brown situation. While winning the division guarantees Tampa will start the postseason at home, this team won a Super Bowl as a wild card team. So I’m just not sure how much seeding will matter.

Tampa Bay holds all of the advantages in this matchup. While I still don’t trust Tampa Bay’s secondary fully, the Panthers don’t have the quarterback play to exploit them through the air. Tampa can load up the box and dare Sam Darnold to beat them.

Offensively, I’d expect a ton of Ronald Jones and KeShawn Vaughn in this one. The Bucs ran for 159 yards on Carolina just two weeks ago, and I’d expect a similar gameplan given the circumstances.

Bottom Line

These two teams played just two weeks ago, with a banged up Buccaneers offense running all over Carolina in a 32-6 win. And I foresee this game following a similar script. While the No. 2 seed would be nice, it might not matter that much to a seasoned Tampa Bay team. It’s hard to project whether Brady and the Bucs main stars will play the entire game. But I expect the game plan to be get up early, and get out.

All that being said, Carolina’s defense has enough to slow down a Bucs offense that likely won’t be too aggressive Sunday. And it’s safe to say Darnold and his miserable offensive line won’t be able to move the ball much against Tampa’s defense.

All of this sets up for a play on the under.

The pick: Under 41.5

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