Tom Brady’s inaugural tour of NFC South rivals continues in Week 2 as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Carolina Panthers. The two teams split last year’s series with the Bucs winning in Charlotte and the Panthers taking a neutral-site battle in London. On Sunday, the Buccaneers are nine-point favorites at home with an over/under of 47.5 points.
It certainly wasn’t the Tampa Bay debut that Brady had in mind last week. The Bucs stayed competitive with New Orleans for much of the game, only to lose 34-23. The Saints are still the team to beat in the NFC South and Brady and the Bucs have some work to do if they hope to change that.
Meanwhile, the Panthers also found themselves on the losing end in week one. Carolina overcame a 12-point deficit to take a 30-27 lead midway through the fourth quarter, only to ultimately lose to the Raiders 34-30. The Panthers need a win before falling too far behind in the NFC South.
One of the biggest questions facing the Panthers this season is how much the addition of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater can elevate the team. Bridgewater was solid in Week 1, especially with Carolina adding Robby Anderson during the offseason.
The wide receiver gives the Panthers a deep threat to complement Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore. That trio of playmakers looked formidable in Week 1, giving Bridgewater plenty of options. After scoring 30 points last week, the Carolina offense appears to be in much better shape than a year ago.
The Panthers should provide a suitable challenge for a Tampa Bay defense that ran out of answers against the Saints in Week 1. In fairness, the Bucs gave up less than 300 yards against Drew Brees and a potent New Orleans offense and were particularly stout against the run. The Buccaneers still gave up three touchdowns though, and only managed one sack. Stopping McCaffrey is also going to be a different kind of challenge in Week 2.
The Brady Bunch
Tampa Bay’s offense wasn’t quite as potent as some were expecting coming out of the gates in week one. The Bucs turned it over three times, including two interceptions thrown by Brady. The bigger problem was Tampa’s continued struggles on the ground though.
Even with Leonard Fournette joining the backfield, the Buccaneers managed just 86 yards on 26 carries – a disappointing 3.3 YPC. The lack of a ground attack puts too much pressure on Brady, who completed just one pass to Mike Evans and two to Rob Gronkowski. Chris Godwin led the way with six catches for 79 yards, but the Bucs need Evans and Gronkowski to be more involved in a potential high scoring game with Carolina.
There’s a good chance that the Bucs offense will be better against a Carolina defense that struggled in Week 1 and couldn’t hold a fourth-quarter lead. The Raiders didn’t have much of a downfield game against Carolina, but they were able to chip away at the Panthers. Brady should have no problem following a similar strategy this week, as he is the master of taking what the defense gives him.
Nine points seems like a lot in this divisional battle but the Bucs offense is also still mostly a major unknown. However, both teams did show defensive flaws in Week 1. Each team possesses an impressive set of offensive skill players so regardless of whether Tampa Bay can win by double digits, expect a healthy dose of offense in this game. Bet the over of 47.5 points.