My followers and I added an early ticket on Tampa Bay as a 6 ½-point home dog, and now look for a late position on the ‘total.’
Injury update: Martin out, Smith probable
Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin is now out for Thursday’s game, dropping from his “questionable” status earlier in the week. The Buccaneers’ backfield is left with Mike James and Brian Leonard, who have seen little action, while quarterback Mike Glennon may resort to more of his own scrambling.
Carolina’s Steve Smith is listed as “probable,” recovering from an ankle injury. The five-time Pro Bowler notched a season-high 69 receiving yards last week in the Panthers’ 30-15 victory over the St. Louis Rams, including a touchdown as part of five catches.
Weather report: Clear at “Ray Jay”
The weather outlook for Thursday’s clash has not changed much since first reported in Monday’s opening odds report. Raymond James Stadium is expected to have a slightly cooler night than originally forecasted, with 68 degrees and clear skies.
Wind looks to not be a factor, with just six mph breezes blowing to the northeast – giving just a small bit of gust to some end-over-end movement. The chance of rain has dropped to almost nil, while the humidity is expected to range from 53 to 65 percent.
Line movement: ‘Total’ keeps rising
Heritage Sports opened its ‘total’ at 39, followed by rising to 40 in its first day on the board and now sitting at 40 ½. OVER backers have placed 58 percent of the ‘total’ wagers, according to the matchup consensus at SBRodds.com.
Others on SBRforum’s NFL betting have liked the UNDER, including poster Trmeyer who looks for a repeat of last year’s tight battle in Tampa Bay between these rivals. Usma1992 has also added the UNDER as part of ‘total’ plays for NFL Week 8, with his system predicting 28 ½ combined points.
The Pick: Back the UNDER
I am also backing the UNDER, adding this to my night’s card of sports picks.
Carolina’s short week should throw off its surging octane here, while held to 15.5 PPG in last year’s two meetings with the Buccaneers. The UNDER is 5-1 in the Panthers’ last six contests played on grass, while its defense has held foes to a stingy 13.8 PPG – ranking second in the league.
Tampa Bay has seen some improvement on offense since switching to Mike Glennon’s presence under center, but will have to rely on a closely-fought battle to come out on top here. Both contests played by the Buccaneers this year with a ‘total’ below 41 each cashed UNDER tickets, while UNDER backers have gone 8-2 in the team’s last 10 home dates for their NFL picks.
The Bucs’ defense should be able to hold Newton and Co. to their share of three-and-out’s – ranking fifth in the league against the run (88.8 YPG). Look for Greg Schiano’s club to keep this duel south of the ‘total,’ adding another UNDER ticket to the wager’s 7-2 mark in its last nine duels against NFC rivals.
NFL Pick: UNDER 40 ½ at William Hill