If you went off last week alone, the Carolina Panthers looked far better than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Carolina gave the defending Super Bowl champions everything they could handle while Tampa Bay laid a giant egg at home against the Saints. The Buccaneers have trended in the wrong direction the past few weeks, but I expect a big bounce back in a critical divisional game this week. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers Betting Odds It would be easier to ignore the debacle from last week if it wasn’t on the heels of a terrible performance the week before against the Giants. Maybe it’s simply the fact both games were in primetime, but Tampa Bay has really struggled the past two weeks and New Orleans exposed it. Tom Brady threw three interceptions and the entire offense looked out of sync against the Saints as Tampa Bay relied almost exclusively on the passing game. Tampa Bay will need to run the ball more than five times if it wants to find more success against Carolina. The normally stout defense was a mess in allowing 420 yards of offense, the second-highest total on the season. The only team to gain more was this Carolina team in Week 2, a game the Buccaneers won by two touchdowns at home. What stood out about that Week 2 matchup was Teddy Bridgewater’s performance as he threw for a season-high 367 yards in the loss. He seemed to be just as locked in last week against the Chiefs, spreading around the ball against Kansas City’s defense to score 31 points and nearly upset the defending champs. I wouldn’t expect the Panthers to move the ball as easily on the Buccaneers as the Saints did, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do it. Bridgewater has the weapons at receiver to spread out Tampa Bay, and McCaffrey’s return to the lineup added a new dimension to the team. However, McCaffrey is out this week with a shoulder injury, derailing a blow to the balance the Panthers were able to strike last week. Once again, more will be placed on the arm of Bridgewater to use his weapons on the outside to do to Tampa Bay what New Orleans was able to do last week and the Giants the week before. The New Jersey online sports betting sites have set the over/under on this contest at 50.5 points, which on its face seems to be an easy bet. Five of the last six Panthers games have featured at least 49 points, so there will be plenty of points for both sides. However, Tampa Bay has played in just one game that featured at least 50 points in the last five weeks, and its offense is struggling at the moment. If the Tampa Bay defense returns to form but the offense continues to struggle, the game could hover right around the number. But I am willing to take the chance on the Buccaneers’ offense to bounce back with Brady at the helm, so I’ll take over 50.5 points at -110 odds. Buccaneers to win Tampa Bay is a 4.5-point favorite this week against Carolina, which is quite honestly way too high. The Buccaneers have Brady at quarterback, but nothing about the last two weeks gives me confidence that the Buccaneers would be a touchdown-favorite on a neutral field. Carolina looked re-energized on offense with McCaffrey and the defense is good enough to give Tampa Bay some trouble. However, Carolina has lost four straight games and Tampa Bay has found ways to scrap out wins this year. It will be tight, but I’ll take the Buccaneers to win by 13 or fewer points at +140 odds on the NFL betting sites in New Jersey.