Line analysis: Panthers-Bucs

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Line analysis: Panthers-Bucs

Laying a significant number of points on a road favorite is a tall order, particularly in a nationally televised primetime game. That’s the case with Thursday’s matchup between the Panthers and Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.

Carolina, fresh off a pair of blowout wins over the Vikings and Rams, opened predominately as 6.5-point favorites (with the LVH hanging Carolina -7) over the winless Bucs. While the 3-3 Panthers’ body of work over the second half of 2012 and the beginning of this season indicates they could have the look of a playoff contender, that line of thought should be moderately tempered when considering the teams they’ve beaten have a combined record of 5-15.

Conversely, Tampa Bay’s resume would indicate its better than its 0-6 mark, as the Bucs were one play away from beating the Jets, Saints and Cardinals, who have gone a combined 12-8 so far. After a rocky NFL debut, rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has settled down to complete 60 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and just one interception in losses to the Eagles (31-20) and Falcons (31-23). The Bucs have talent, particularly at wide receiver and in the secondary.

The fact that this is a divisional game being played in Tampa Bay under the primetime spotlight of Thursday Night Football means the Bucs will have a little extra motivation to get that elusive first win under their belt.

The wiseguys are in accord. As of Wednesday night, 66 percent of bets cast had come in on the Panthers side, yet the line had actually moved in the opposite direction, with Carolina checking in mainly as a 6-point favorite at most Vegas books. Thus the heaviest money has come in on that one-third of plays made on the Bucs, causing the books to shave a half-point off the line.

The Panthers may be the better team, but the value in this game lies with the Bucs.

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