The Carolina Panthers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tonight in the National Football League’s Thursday night game for second week action. Both these teams opened at home last week and both squads lost their openers.
What does that mean?
It means the chances of either of them winning Super Bowl LIV became a lot less likely. There have been 53 Super Bowl winners, and only one of them, the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lost on opening day at home. Teams that are going to be around in February are in nearly all cases the same teams that answer the bell in September.
The Buccaneers are under the direction of first year head coach Bruce Arians, who is making his third NFL stop in that position. He formerly was the head man for the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals. While Arians may be on his last stop as an NFL head coach, his quarterback, Jameis Winston, is also perhaps playing to keep his spot on the Buccaneers roster.
The first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, Winston has only once led the Bucs to a winning campaign, 9-7 in 2016. Five years to get his team into the playoff hunt is about all any quarterback can expect from an organization. Do it this year, or expect to be jettisoned out of town before the 2020 season kicks off.
With his new coach, and that pressure on Winston, they came up short in their home opener last week against the San Francisco 49ers. The Bucs had more yards passing and more yards rushing than San Francisco in the opener, but Winston tossed two ill advised interceptions that were returned for San Francisco points in their 31-17 victory. The pair of pick sixes surrendered by Winston, more than made up for the one Jimmy Garoppolo tossed that gave the Bucs a second quarter lead.
While the Buccaneers were losing at home to the highly suspect 49ers by two touchdowns, the Panthers got nipped by a field goal in their game against the defending NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams.
One might say, in fact nearly 77% of the bettors wagering on this game tonight are banking, that a narrow loss to a champion is more impressive than a lopsided defeat against a team that has been watching the playoffs on television in recent years. One can understand that, but it is not in concert to how motivation really works in the cause and effect game.
Consider this, the Panthers lost last week as a home underdog, and are now favored by a touchdown. The Buccaneers lost at home as a home favorite and are now a road underdog against a division opponent. Neither team won last week, but one of them is confident of a victory this week, the one that was an underdog last Sunday. The visitors know tonight that they are going to have to drastically step up their game to avoid an 0-2 start.
One of the worst positions for a team to be in motivationally, is to be expected to win after a loss. Wins don’t come from overconfidence after a defeat, they show up after a loss plus the prospect of another defeat.
What we have to see tonight, is if the Buccaneers talent is really so bad that it can’t take advantage of a good situation. But, given they lost their home opener as an underdog, we can be pretty sure the Panthers are not good enough to overcome a bad spot.
Qoxhi Picks: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7) over Carolina Panthers