NFL Picks: Panthers to Pick Up First Loss in Week 4 vs. Bucs

Steven Suarez

Monday, September 28, 2015 3:22 PM GMT

Monday, Sep. 28, 2015 3:22 PM GMT

The Panthers remain undefeated as they head into another key divisional battle with the Buccaneers. Let's have an early peek at the NFL odds and see where the value can be found.

Odds Overview
Early NFL betting odds for Week 4 show the Panthers favored by three points despite being on the road. They've enjoyed a stellar start to their season and oddsmakers think that momentum will carry over against division rival Tampa Bay.

Don't expect a high-scoring game here, not with the way Carolina's defense has been performing, even without their best individual defender in Luke Keuchly. The O/U for this Sunday's game is currently trading at 40 points -- a site or two even have 39.5 available -- which is the lowest total on the board for Week 4.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers hung around and were in a good position to win Week 3's road game in Houston, but ultimately they fell short in a 19-9 defeat. It certainly didn't help that rookie kicker Kyle Brindza missed three field goals and an extra point; who knows what would have happened if those were converted.

Nonetheless, kicking issues aside, the Tampa Bay offense should take some blame for not finishing drives like they needed to. Jameis Winston wasn't very efficient, completing only 17-of-36 passes for 261 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The run game was stuffed for 57 yards on 20 total carries, though Mike Evans was able to make an impact, hauling in 7-of-17 targets for a team-leading 101 yards.

The defense was also relatively successful in limiting damage against the Texans, although they coughed up 186 rushing yards and a score to Alfred Blue and company and were unable to hold DeAndre Hopkins (101 yards and a TD) in check. Now they have to contend with dual-threat QB Cam Newton, albeit back at home.

 

Carolina Panthers
Despite the brutal news of Kelvin Benjamin's season-ending injury before Week 1, the Panthers have fought their way to a perfect 3-0 start. They've beaten Jacksonville on the road and overcome Houston and New Orleans at home.

This past weekend against a Saints team missing Drew Brees, Carolina wasn't as dominant as many expected. When news of Brees sitting was released, the line shot up, making the Panthers one of the biggest favorites on the NFL odds board for Week 3. In the end, though, they were only able to win by five (27-22) at home. Cam Newton accounted for three touchdowns, with two of those going to trusty tight end (and number one target) Greg Olsen and the other coming with his legs.  

Newton has enjoyed a stellar start to his season and looks primed to put the team on his back throughout the season. Carolina's defense has also held strong overall and will get a huge boost whenever Keuchly is able to return to the fold.

 

Sunday Betting
While the Panthers are riding high and are playing with a ton of confidence, we don't love this spot for them at Tampa Bay.

The Bucs offense has been sputtering, but we know the talent is there and that it's only a matter of time before we see better things out of that group. We were impressed with how competitive Tampa Bay was in Houston last week and they had their chances to win that game. We can't forget about that Week 2 road win over Drew Brees and the Saints either; regardless of how bad New Orleans has looked this season, winning in the Superdome is always an achievement.

Many will keep riding the Carolina train and expect them to brush aside Winston and company, but we're on the other side of the fence here. We look for Tampa Bay's best all-around effort to date and thus will add them as underdogs to our NFL picks for Week 4.

NFL Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3 at 5Dimes.

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