The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to take on the Carolina Panthers in an NFC South matchup that does have some relevance, though only for one of the teams involved. That team is Carolina, who is 8-3 on the season and riding an incredible winning streak of seven games. That streak includes wins over the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and yes, the Buccaneers themselves.
That first meeting with the Buccaneers was in Tampa Bay as well, so Carolina has the home-field advantage this time around. The Buccaneers, to their credit, are actually riding a winning streak of their own. After losing its first eight games of the season, Tampa Bay has now won its last three games, including a 24-21 victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 12.
Regardless, Carolina is a heavy favorite to win this one, as expected. The Panthers opened as 10.5-point favorites, though the line did narrow on most books, according to OddShark. At midweek, they could be had favored by as little as 8 points or as high as 9.5 points.
The fact that this is a divisional matchup could be the cause of the narrowing line. Tampa Bay is not a very good team, but the Panthers have looked beatable at times, and it's always harder to secure the second win over the divisional rival than the first.
The over/under for the matchup opened at 41.5 points. That total has gone over in six of Tampa Bay's last seven games, but under in five of its last seven games on the road. The total has gone under in four of Carolina's last five games, and under in five of its last six games at home.