Betting The Bucs is a weekly segment that focuses on the gambling lines for each Tampa Bay game during the season. We’ll take a look into different aspects of the game to help you make your decision on whether to bet for or against the Bucs. We’ll also break down various prop bets to take before you watch on Sunday.
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The Line: Bucs -10, O/U 42.5
We’re this late into the season and yet still don’t know what kind of Bucs team we’ll get on Sunday against the Panthers. It’s not really Tampa Bay’s fault, though, as the Bucs are ravaged by injury on offense. Chris Godwin is done for the year, Leonard Fournette is out for the rest of the regular season. Mike Evans is out for this game. That’s the Bucs’ top three receivers right there, which is a huge issue despite getting Antonio Brown back. It’ll change the style of the offense, but it doesn’t mean they can’t go out there and win big. Ronald Jones II will get a healthy diet of rushing attempts. If Gronk gets another 11 targets like he did last game, I expect he’ll catch more than two.
It’s tough to figure what we’ll get from the Panthers as well. That’s because we’re potentially looking at a two-quarterback system between Cam Newton and Sam Darnold. The Bucs have injuries on defense as well, with Lavonte David on IR and Antoine Winfield out for a second straight game. That said, the secondary gets Mike Edwards back and are as healthy as they’ve been this season even with Winfield unavailable. You’re getting a start for Joe Tryon-Shoyinka with JPP’s shoulder acting up, so I’m looking at two turnovers for the defense as they become the reason the Bucs win.
Even after last week’s ugly performance against the Saints, the Bucs are 4-1 against the spread in their last five. Meanwhile, the Panthers are 1-5 ATS in their last six, and have failed to cover their last five games at home. Injuries won’t derail the Bucs from taking care of business against an opponent they should beat every time. They won’t pass up another opportunity to clinch the division.
The Pick: Bucs -10
Ronald Jones Over 68.5 Rushing Yards (-116)
Let’s not forget that Jones was 22 yards away from being a 1,000 yard rusher last season. He’s the best pure runner on the Bucs roster when it comes to toting the rock. It’s his time again, as the starting running back for the rest of the season. I think he’ll seize the moment for the time being. Jones had the greatest game of his career last season in Carolina, rushing for 192 yards on 23 attempts and scoring a touchdown. While he probably won’t reach those numbers, he’s poised for a huge game.
Rob Gronkowski Over 58.5 Receiving Yards (-114)
This bears repeating: if Gronk gets 11 targets like last game, he will catch more than two. That, of course, means he can reach this number easily. With so many weapons for Tom Brady out, he’ll be looking for the player that he trusts more than anyone on this team. Throw out last week’s game, and Gronk has gone for 71, 123, 58 and 62-yard receiving games since returning from injury. He’s on pace to get that once more.
Antonio Brown Touchdown (+110)
Everyone will be watching with intrigue to see how Brown looks following a three-game suspension and two-month absence due to an ankle injury. Brady loves to get Brown the football and will find creative ways to do so. In five games that Brown has played this season, he’s caught a touchdown in three of them, including two in a win over the Dolphins. If Tampa Bay is in the red zone, do you think Brady is going to target Gronk and Brown more, or young, second-year players such as Tyler Johnson and Ke’Shawn Vaughn? That’s what I thought.