The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Carolina Panthers tonight. Two banged-up 1-3 teams facing off in a divisional matchup.
The Panthers will be missing their starting quarterback, running back and left tackle. The Bucs their starting running back, defensive end, and two defensive tackles — unless one of them is unexpectedly healthy. It’s a bit of a mess.
Neither one of these teams has played good football this season, healthy or no, and it’s hard to see them playing well tonight. But they don’t need to play well to win — they just need to play less poorly than the other team.
That makes this a rather difficult game to forecast, though. You’d expect both teams to struggle on offense — but then, they’re facing pretty bad defenses. This could be a low-scoring game, or a shootout. I genuinely don’t have an inkling, here. We could see turnover after turnover, or just defensive incompetence stacked on defensive incompetence.
Ultimately, I’m leaning more towards a low-scoring game. And while I’d like to see the Bucs win, they are six-point underdogs in the betting markets. A 17-14 loss for Tampa Bay seems fairly realistic. Maybe they’ll lose because of a Roberto Aguayo miss to make things extra perfect and Tampa Bay-ish.
Are you less pessimistic than I am? What’s your prediction?