Quarterback Cam Newton will miss what is shaping up as an early-season elimination game between the Carolina Panthers and the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night. Newton, who guided Carolina to the Super Bowl last season, didn’t practice all week and was confirmed as OUT on Saturday afternoon.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera confirmed the decision on Newton, the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, was out of his hands. “We follow the (NFL concussion) protocol,” Rivera said. “We’re not forcing players to get onto the football field. We’ll do exactly as the protocol tells us, and the doctors and the experts tell us.” Derek Anderson will get the nod against Tampa Bay, which has dropped three in a row since a season-opening victory over the Falcons. The Buccaneers have been torched for 104 points during their three-game skid and have lost six straight matchups to Carolina, including both last season by a combined 42 points.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: The defending NFC Champions opened the betting week as 4.5-point favorites. That spread dropped down to -4 when Cam Newton was announced as OUT but there has been significant Panthers’ money on Sunday which has spiked the line up to -5.5. The total opened at 45.5 but was immediately dropped down to 44 early in the week. Leading up to Sunday’s kickoffs there was significant action on the Over which forced the books to bump the total up to 45.5. Check out the complete line history here.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Buccaneers (+2.5) – Panthers (-1.5) + home field (-3) = Panthers -7
Buccaneers – DT C. McDonald (Ques Mon, hamstring), CB B. Grimes (Ques Mon, hamstring), DE R. Ayers (Ques Mon, ankle), TE L. Stocker (Ques Mon, ankle), WR C. Shorts (Ques Mon, hamstring), TE B. Myers (Ques Mon, shoulder), LB L. David (Ques Mon, undisclosed), RB C. Sims (Doub Mon, knee), DT G. McCoy (Doub Mon, calf), DE N. Spence (Out Indefinitely, shoulder), RB D. Martin (Mid Oct, hamstring), LB D. Bond (I-R, hamstring), DE J. Smith (I-R, knee), WR L. Murphy (Elig Week 8, knee), G J. Sweezy (Elig Week 8, back), DE G. Johnson (I-R, hip).
Panthers – WR D. Funchess (Prob Mon, toe), LB T. Davis (Prob Mon, hamstring), DE C. Johnson (Ques Mon, quadricep), FB M. Tolbert (Ques Mon, hamstring), WR T. Ginn, Jr. (Ques Mon, foot), LB J. Cash (Ques Mon, hamstring), QB C. Newton (Out Mon, concussion), T M. Oher (Out Mon, concussion), CB J. Bradberry (Out Mon, toe), RB J. Stewart (Mid Oct, hamstring), DT V. Butler (Mid Oct, ankle), DE R. Delaire (I-R, knee), S D. Marlowe (I-R, hamstring), WR L. Byrd (I-R, concussion), T J. Rigsbee (I-R, knee), CB L. Johnson (Elig Week 8, achilles), FB D. Johnson (I-R, back).
WEATHER REPORT: Game-time conditions in Charlotte are going to be clear with temperatures in the low-60’s on Monday evening. Winds will be light and humidity levels will be at around 60 percent.
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS, 2-2 O/U): Tampa Bay was held to seven points for the second time in three games in last week’s 27-7 home loss to Denver as quarterback Jameis Winston continues to struggle in his second season. Winston has thrown as many interceptions (eight) as touchdown passes — seven coming in the past three weeks — and has absorbed a league-high 39 hits, although coach Dirk Koetter said playing from behind has left his quarterback more vulnerable. Wideout Mike Evans has 26 receptions and three touchdowns in three games, but running backs Doug Martin (hamstring) and Charles Sims (knee) could both miss Monday’s game with injuries. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is also a question mark due to a calf injury.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS, 3-1 O/U): Carolina has issues on both sides of the ball, scoring only 10 points in a Week 3 home loss to Minnesota before its defense was shredded for 48 points in last week’s drubbing at Atlanta. Anderson was 17 of 23 for 172 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, including a game-clinching pick-six, in relief of Newton last week. “Guys have a lot of respect for him,” said Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who has 24 receptions and a pair of touchdowns. “He’s been in the fire as the starter, as a backup in places he’s been. Every time he’s coming in he’s delivered.” Carolina had one of the league’s stingiest defenses in 2015, but it was carved up for 503 passing yards by the Falcons.
* Buccaneers are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games overall.
* Panthers are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game.
* Over is 11-2 in Buccaneers last 13 games in October.
* Over is 5-0 in Panthers last 5 games following a straight up loss of more than 14 points.
* Buccaneers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers public is backing the Panthers with 56 percent of the picks on the home favorites. Over is dominating totals wagers with 62 percent of the selections. View full consensus data here.