Tampa Bay (1-3) at Carolina (1-3)
When: Monday, October 10th 2016
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Time: 8:30 ET | TV: ESPN
The Carolina Panthers will be without Cam Newton on Monday night in what is virtually an elimination game for them and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both teams sit at 1-3 in the NFC South and are looking for answers on both sides of the ball. Newton was knocked out of last week’s loss to Atlanta and was replaced by Derek Anderson, who will start Monday. Anderson was 17 of 23 for 172 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, including a game-clinching pick-six. Anderson made two starts in place of Newton in 2014 and beat the Buccaneers twice, throwing for three TDs and zero interceptions. Carolina has beaten Tampa Bay six straight times and won both meetings last season by a combined 42 points. The Panthers had one of the best defenses in the league in 2015, but are struggling mightily to stop opponents. The allowed Atlanta to throw for 503 yards last week and are starting to feel the effects of not having Pro-Bowl CB Josh Norman.
Tampa Bay was the only team to beat the now 4-1 Atlanta Falcons way back in Week 1, but since have dropped three straight and have looked terrible in the process. Not only have they allowed 24 points or more in each game this season, but the scored just 7 points themselves in two of the last three games. Jameis Winston continues to struggle in his second season in the league. He has thrown as many interceptions (eight) as touchdown passes with seven of those coming in the past three weeks. He has been hit a league-high 39 times, although coach Dirk Koetter said playing from behind has left his quarterback more vulnerable. WR Mike Evans has 26 receptions and three touchdowns in three games, but running backs Doug Martin (hamstring) and Charles Sims (knee) could both miss Monday’s game with injuries. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is also a question mark due to a calf injury. The defense is ranked 31st in points allowed (32.0).
Even though Carolina has struggled, I would have taken them to beat the Bucs badly, but I really don’t like Anderson at QB. The Bucs need to come out with more defensive intensity and give Winston some good field position. He had success against Atlanta’s poor defense in Week 1 and Carolina’s defense is not much better. I think six is a lot of points with a backup QB – Just look at what the Broncos did yesterday with their backup. I’ll take the points.
Pick: Bucs +6