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NFL Week 5 Monday Night Football: Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers -4.0 (-110)

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

October 10, 2016, 5:30PM PDT

Our primary factors make the Panthers to be eight to ten point favorites at home this evening versus the Bucs. However, we remind our readers that one of our two main spread handicapping tools does not consider injury. For this system, no adjustment was made to our estimate of the betting line to account for Derek Anderson's filling in for NFL MVP, Cam Newton. However, two of the three independent computer simulation routines we employ as supplemental indicators likewise endorse the home cover tonight -- these systems do consider personnel availability.

Of note, we bet Carolina -4 around the middle of last week, interestingly, before Newton was definitively ruled out. Despite the star QB being sidelined with a concussion, the line has moved appreciably the Panthers' way, to favoring Carolina by 5.5 or 6 as of the time of this writing.

6 is a key number for the home team, as over the last five completed NFL seasons, a home win by 6 has been the fifth most frequent outcome -- occurring 56 times in 1,334 games. We caution readers to not get overly anxious though, as we expect the Panther's to best the Bucs by better than a touchdown.

In support of our position, the numbers suggest Derek Anderson is at least comparable to Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston under center. Winston's Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement is -67 (suggesting his play has been worse than the average replacement-caliber QB), while Anderson's DYAR suggests he is the prototypical backup (although Anderson has completed only about an eighth of the number of passes thrown by Winston).

In limited action, Anderson also ranks superior to Winston on the basis of DVOA and QB Rating (as is shown below).

Further, Derek Anderson and the Carolina receivers have the luxury of splitting responsibility for offensive output with the Panther's top-ten ground game. Sure, Jonathan Stewart is missing in action for Carolina this evening, but Fozzy Whittaker's 27 carries for 114 yards this season exceeds Stewart's output.

On the other hand, the Buccaneers are 25th running the ball. As a result, Winston typically has to try to shoulder Tampa Bay's offensive burden (as a percentage of total offensive plays, the Buccaneers throw more than all but five other NFL teams).

Related to the Bucs' throw first mentality, Winston is averaging two picks per contest, second worst in the league. This tendency plays into the hands of the Panthers, who benefit from more one INT per game, on average -- good for fifth in the league by this measure.

Bottom line: We regard even a deficient Panthers unit as meaningfully superior to Tampa Bay on both sides of the ball. We therefore regard 4 (or even 6) as a reasonable chalk to lay to back the better team.

Happy betting!!

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