Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+5.5, 40.5)
Cam Newton has been overshadowed by the highly publicized quarterback class of 2012, but he has the Carolina Panthers at .500 for the first time in his three-year tenure as they prepare to visit the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night. The Panthers have won three of four and a victory Thursday would give them them a winning record, something that hasn't occurred since the end of the 2008 season. Tampa Bay posted a pair of six-point wins over Carolina last season.
An already-bleak season took another turn for the worse for the Buccaneers on Monday when it was revealed that second-year running back Doug Martin suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder in Sunday's 31-23 loss to Atlanta. Martin, who rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns last season as a rookie, will be sidelined indefinitely and could be done for the season. That puts more pressure on rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, who will be making his fourth career start.
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network.
LINE: The Panthers opened at -6 and have been bet down to -5.5. The total has jumped from 38.5 to 40.5.
WEATHER: Clear skies and temperatures in the mid 60s with winds blowing NE at 6 mph.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Carolina (0.0) + Tampa Bay (+6.5) - home field (-3.0) = Buccaneers +3.5
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (3-3, 3-3 ATS): Newton has put up huge numbers in the past but they haven't translated into the win column. He has been steely efficient in back-to-back victories over St. Louis and Minnesota, completing 35-of-43 passes for four touchdowns and zero interceptions while posting passer ratings of 136.3 and 143.4, respectively. Carolina's defense has also play a pivotal role in the resurgence, allowing an average of 243 total yards over the past four games and yielding one TD in each of the past two.
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (0-6, 1-5 ATS): Three of Tampa Bay's losses have come by a combined six points, so circumstances are not as dire as the record indicates despite the reported friction between the players and coach Greg Schiano. Although Martin is the focal point of the offense, he has struggled in his second season and been held to 67 rushing yards or fewer in four of the six games. Glennon is developeding a nice rapport with wideout Vincent Jackson, who has 19 receptions for 252 yards and four TDs in the past two games.
* Favorite is 9-2 ATS in their last 11 meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Over is 7-2 in the last nine meetings in Tampa Bay.
1. The teams have alternated series sweeps over the past four seasons.
2. Newton has five TD passes and zero interceptions with four rushing scores in his last three versus the Buccaneers.
3. Tampa Bay churned out 297 rushing yards in the two wins over Carolina last season.