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Panthers Dismiss Winless Bucs

The Carolina Panthers got the better of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football.

The Carolina Panthers got the better of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football.

Amid empty seats, paper bag masks, and a general sense of hopelessness, the Carolina Panthers made short work of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night, leaving Raymond James Stadium with a 31-13 victory.

The Panthers, experiencing something of a resurgence, won for the third straight game and fourth time in five games. The victory marked the first time since the close of the 2008 season that the team moved above .500.

On the other side of the field, the Buccaneers’ horrific slump continued. Winless on the season, Tampa Bay has now lost 12 of its last 13 games, dating back to November 2012. This unwanted streak has been accompanied by a toothlessness that suggests there’s little hope to be found on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Cam Newton acted as a catalyst for the Panthers, completing 23 of 32 passes for 221 yards and a pair of passing touchdowns. The third-year quarterback also led the team in rushing, compiling 50 yards and a touchdown.

Newton threw scoring strikes to Greg Olsen in the first quarter and Mike Tolbert in the fourth, while crossing the goal line himself from six yards in the third. DaAngelo Williams, who had 43 yards on eight carries, chipped in with his first touchdown of the season, going in from 12 yards out in the second quarter.

The Panthers defense limited Tampa’s offense to a pair of Ryan Lindell field goals, giving Carolina a 31-6 lead late in the game. Mike Glennon finally connected with Tim Wright for the Bucs’ only touchdown of the night with just 2:53 left in the game.

The rookie quarterback completed 30 of 51 passes for 275 yards and a score, but it wasn’t nearly enough. He got little help either. As a team, the Bucs compiled just 48 rushing yards compared to Carolina’s 129.

The Panthers (4-3) now begin preparations for Week 9’s home game against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons will be looking to gain ground on the Panthers after a surprisingly slow start to the year. The Panthers will be looking to move to 2-0 in divisional play.

Tampa Bay (0-7) faces the unenviable task of taking a trip to the Pacific Northwest for a showdown with the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday.  Next Sunday is a long way off though.

The call for head coach Greg Schiano to be fired has grown from a background din to a full-on vocal assault. Fans at Thursday night’s game chanted their disapproval of the second-year coach in the fourth quarter. This came after detractors had earlier in the day taken out a billboard simply stating, ‘Fire Schiano’. Gary Shelton covered the topic at length in his column for the Tampa Bay Times following the game.

For Schiano next Sunday may not come, at least on the Buccaneers’ sideline.

Vegas Impact

Carolina (4-3-0 ATS) covered the spread for the third straight game and fourth time in five games. Every time Ron Rivera’s side wins straight up, it covers the spread. The Panthers will certainly be worth some consideration when they take to the field against Atlanta next weekend.

Tampa Bay (1-6-0 ATS) meanwhile failed to cover for the fifth straight game and sixth time in seven games this season. The team’s only success against the spread came in a 16-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 2. At this rate, however big the spread is when the Buccaneers face the Seahawks next week might not be big enough.

Thursday night’s game saw the total go over. Both teams have now seen the total go over in their last three outings. On the season, Carolina (4-3-0) favors the over while Tampa Bay (3-4-0) favors the under, for now at least. Of course, averaging just 14 points per game, it’s not really the Buccaneers that are generating those overs we’ve seen.

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