With concerns over the availability of quarterback Josh Freeman, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now three-point favorites when they host the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. According to our odds partners Odds Shark, the Buccaneers opened as 3.5-point favorites over the Panthers.
Freeman injured his right shoulder during last Sunday's 23-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans and was limited in the early week practices. If Freeman is unable to play, fourth-year quarterback Josh Johnson would make his fifth NFL start and his first since the 2009 season.
Sunday will be the first of two meetings between the two NFC South rivals in a 20-day span as the Panthers and Buccaneers will exchange presents on Christmas Eve in Charlotte. A five-game losing streak has the Buccaneers entering Sunday's action at 4-7, one game ahead of the Panthers, who snapped a three-game losing streak with a 27-19 win over the Indianapolis Colts last week.
The Panthers have a 12-9 edge in the all-time series, sweeping the season series in 2003, 2004 and 2009, with the Buccaneers returning the favor in 2002 and 2010.