Panthers vs. Buccaneers NFL Picks: Lowest Total on the Board Provides Great Betting Value So Grab 'Over' 39.5

Jason Lake

Friday, October 2, 2015 2:55 AM GMT

Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 2:55 AM GMT

If you're looking for the lowest total on the NFL odds board, you've found it: Sunday's NFC South matchup between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jason's 2015 record as of Sept. 30: 12-7 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 6-9 Total

Are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who we thought they were? There was a glimmer of hope after the Bucs beat the New Orleans Saints in Week 2, but the glimmering stopped this past Sunday. Facing a very unimpressive team in the Houston Texans, Tampa Bay came up dry in a 19-9 defeat (UNDER 41). The Bucs have just 49 points after three games. They've scored five touchdowns thus far.

It's not going to be any easier finding the end zone this Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) when the Carolina Panthers come to town. The Panthers have found their defensive groove again this year, and they just added DE Jared Allen in a trade with the Chicago Bears. So naturally we've got the lowest total on the Week 4 NFL odds board at anywhere between 39.5 and 40.5 points inclusive. Early action was split 50-50, but our consensus reports at press time show 63-percent support for the OVER at 40 points.

 

Third-and-Wrong
There's plenty of logic behind that play. Sunday's total is low, although it's not sub-37 points the way we like it. And while the Buccaneers got nowhere against Houston, a closer look at the numbers tells us that rookie QB Jameis Winston had an acceptably average day against the Texans defense. Winston ranked No. 17 at his position with +25 Total DYAR in Week 4, according to Football Outsiders. That was after ranking No. 15 (+65 DYAR) for his performance against New Orleans.

The Buccaneers would be delighted if Winston played at a league-average level this year. The problem against Houston: 1-for-12 on third-down conversion attempts. That's the kind of stat that cries out for regression. We can pin some of that on Winston, and some of it on Tampa Bay's offensive line, where LT Donovan Smith (knee) and center Evan Smith (ankle) were forced to sit out Wednesday's practice. We can also credit J.J. Watt and the Texans for closing the door on Tampa Bay. But dumb luck played a role, too.

 

Kuechly Down Under
We should take a moment to point out that Football Outsiders doesn't actually adjust its stats for defense until after Week 4, so when we see that the Bucs offense is last in the league in DVOA by a wide margin, let's not forget they played (and lost) to the Texans and the Tennessee Titans – that's Dick LeBeau and the Tennessee Titans. Get used to excellent defense in Nashville.

The Panthers defense looks pretty darn impressive, too – but again, Carolina has played (and beaten) the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Texans and the Saints. None of those offenses is getting the job done right now. On top of that, LB Luke Kuechly (concussion) might not play Sunday. The totals are split 1-1-1 for the Panthers this year; their offense is performing quite well, ranking ninth overall in efficiency. The OVER looks like it belongs in our NFL picks, but be forewarned, there's a 20-percent chance of a thunderstorm over Raymond James Stadium at kick-off.

NFL Pick: Take OVER 39.5 (–105) at Pinnacle

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