Welcome to the Thursday Night Football betting breakdown, where I’ll provide a betting overview of the upcoming Thursday Night Football game utilizing moneyline, points spread and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook Additionally, I’ll hone in on at least one player or game prop each week that I feel has profit potential at one of those three sportsbooks.
All betting takes will be classified as either a “lean” or a “pick”. A lean is a wager that we have a certain degree of certainty in. However, it’s one that still falls somewhere short of a high-confidence selection. A pick carries an additional degree of confidence based on a variety of factors. These include relevant injuries; past track record of each team in those bet types and under the specific conditions that apply; and recent performances of each team leading up to the game.
For more detailed information on this week’s matchup – including further game analysis, betting trends breakdown, betting tips specific to TNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Thursday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.
The Panthers unsurprisingly check in as heavy moneyline favorites in this spot. There are several clear reasons why. To begin with, Carolina boasts a 23-14 all-time advantage in the series. More recently, the Panthers are 9-3 against the Buccaneers over the last six seasons. Plus, they’re 5-1 in the last six Bank of America Stadium matchups with Tampa.
Then, both teams are naturally playing on a short week. Yet the Buccaneers are at even more of a disadvantage than the Panthers. Tampa is the road team in this matchup and also played one of the late-afternoon games in Week 1. Therefore, Carolina will essentially have a day (considering the Bucs have to travel) and three and a half extra hours of rest on their opponent.
There’s also the matter of each team’s Week 1 performances. Both squads come in 0-1. Yet the manner in which each lost was considerably different. The Panthers played the defending NFC champion Rams tough. It wasn’t until their onside kick attempt with just under two minutes to go ended up in the hands of Los Angeles that coach Sean McVay and company could breathe easy.
In turn, the Buccaneers were constantly frustrated by the 49ers defense in the regular-season Tampa debut of coach Bruce Arians’ offense. Jameis Winston was intercepted thrice, including for a pair of pick-sixes. The fifth-year quarterback never seemed to get into a rhythm for long and managed only a combined five completions to his top wideout duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Finally, there was considerable disparity in the home/road won-loss records of each team last season. Carolina once again was solid at home. That’s been the norm during the Cam Newton era. The Panthers were 5-3 at BOA Stadium last season, and they’re 43-26 overall there since Newton took over under center to start the 2011 campaign. For their part, the Buccaneers were an abysmal 1-7 when traveling in 2018.
TNF Point Spread
The Panthers are sitting as 6.5-7.0 point favorites for all of the reasons just cited. That spread does come off as relatively expansive for a divisional matchup. The oddsmakers are clearly down on the Buccaneers, and likely Winston in particular, with such a short turnaround and what looks like a fairly steep learning curve in their new offense still at play.
As it turns out, neither team’s track record against the spread last season reveals a clear-cut advantage. For their part, the Buccaneers were 7-7-2 against the spread in 2018, including a 3-3-2 as an away underdog. Tampa was also 3-3 versus the number in division games. Zooming out, the Bucs are 15-14-3 (51.7 percent) against the spread on the road during Jameis Winston’s tenure (2015-present), and 14-12-3 (53.8 percent) as a road underdog specifically.
The Panthers were 7-9 (43.8 percent) against the spread last year, including 3-2 (60.0 percent) as a home favorite. Carolina was also 3-3 versus the number in division games. Taking a longer view, the Panthers are 39-29-1 (57.4 percent) against the number at home in the Cam Newton era (2011-present), and 27-19-1 (58.7 percent) as a home favorite specifically over that span.
Finally, neither team has done well against the spread in recent Thursday night games, although the fact this one comes so early in the season might make some of that a bit irrelevant. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting the two teams are a combined 0-9 against the spread in their last nine Thursday contests (five-game sample for Tampa, four-game sample for Carolina).
Two out of the Bucs’ last three losses in BOA Stadium have been by more than seven points. However, short-week games are unpredictable by nature and Arians’ crew is looking to right the ship. Therefore, I lean toward a more cohesive Bucs offense and a closer game than projected.
The Lean: Buccaneers +7 at FanDuel Sportsbook
TNF Over/Under Total
The game currently checks in with a projected 50.0-point total. The number seems somewhat reasonable, considering both offenses certainly have enough firepower to each score in the 20s. However, neither defensive unit is an outright doormat. The Buccaneers’ D in particular seems to have legitimately taken to new coordinator Todd Bowles’ 3-4 scheme. After solid showings throughout training camp and preseason, Tampa defenders actually did a formidable job on the 49ers offense in the opener despite San Fran ultimately finishing with 31 points on the board.
As alluded to earlier, 14 of those points came via the pair of pick-sixes that the 49ers logged against Winston. Otherwise, the Bucs held the Niners to a measly 256 total yards. San Fran averaged just 4.3 yards per play and 3.1 yards per rush specifically. Plus, Tampa took back a Jimmy Garoppolo pass to the house as well, with Vernon Hargreaves doing the honors. Hargreaves and fellow corner Carlton Davis have been raving about the press coverage that Bowles’ scheme allows them to play. If the opener is any indication, the duo seems exceedingly comfortable with that style.
The Panthers’ opponent also put a 30-spot on the board in Week 1. However, as with the Bucs, their defense had reason to be proud. For starters, it’s extremely difficult to totally shut down the Rams offense. Then, Carolina did an excellent job largely neutralizing speedy Brandin Cooks, holding him to 39 yards receiving on a pair of grabs. Rams QB Jared Goff threw for only 186 yards and averaged just 4.8 yards per attempt. The Panthers also naturally know the Bucs’ offensive personnel well, even if the scheme is a different one that they’ve seen them run. And speaking of Arians’ offense, it’s often come up short against Ron Rivera in the past. Carolina was 3-1 against Arians’ Cardinals teams during his tenure there and held them to an average of 18.3 points per contest.
Given the various factors cited, I see the total as a bit ambitious and am therefore going with the Under.
The Pick: Under 50 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Best TNF Prop Bet
Moneyline and Total Points: Panthers and Under 50.5 (+160 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
As already detailed, a Panthers moneyline bet looks like a strong play here for a number of pertinent reasons. Carolina knows how to handle its business more often than not at home. Moreover, with a new coach and new schemes on both sides of the ball, the Buccaneers shape up as a team that will play its best football of 2019 in the latter portion of the season. Then, the Under is also looking like the way to go here, especially on DK, where it’s currently an extra half-point over the 50 cited above.