2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Panthers can't blow this 1 vs winless Bucs

By BARRY WILNER - AP Pro Football Writer
    2013-10-23 14:01

With a two-game winning streak and suddenly effective units on both sides of the ball, the Carolina Panthers are oozing confidence.

Facing winless Tampa Bay on Thursday night should do nothing to erase that self-assurance.

While the Panthers (3-3) are getting solid performances from quarterback Cam Newton and receiver Steve Smith on offense, tackling machine Luke Kuechly at linebacker, and safety Mike Mitchell, they're also plus-5 in turnover margin.

So why not look up in the standings at a potential wild-card spot, especially facing the most dysfunctional team in the league this year, the Bucs?

''I can't stress enough how proper preparation can increase the confidence come game time,'' Newton said, speaking for himself as well as the team. ''When you come to the line and you know that you've been coached up to expect a certain look - and then you get that look - you don't panic.''

Panic City might be another name for Tampa, where rookie Mike Glennon makes his fourth start since incumbent quarterback Josh Freeman was exiled. Halfback Doug Martin hurt his shoulder in Sunday's loss.

''I just take the next task at hand,'' coach Greg Schiano said. ''I can tell you, on a short week like this, you don't get a lot of sleep. You try to get everything done. You try to make it as good a plan, yet not very complicated, because you don't have a lot of time to practice.

''It really has to be between the ears, get yourself, physically, feeling as well as you can as a football team, and we've got to go out and execute against a team that, right now, is pretty hot.''

Carolina (No. 16 in the AP Pro32) is a 6-point favorite over Tampa Bay (No. 31, AP Pro32).

PANTHERS, 17-10

No. 1 Seattle (minus 11) at No. 26 St. Louis

It's madness to lay this many points on the road in current NFL. Unless Kurt Warner is coming through the Rams' door, we're laying them ...

BEST BET: SEAHAWKS, 23-3

No. 10 Dallas (plus 3) at No. 12 Detroit

Not a big believer in Lions. Nor in Cowboys, but ...

UPSET SPECIAL: COWBOYS, 23-21

No. 7 Green Bay (minus 10) at No. 30 Minnesota

Packers start pulling away in NFC North.

PACKERS, 30-13

No. 13 New York Jets (plus 6 1/2) at No. 8 Cincinnati

Stamp the winner here as a team to watch.

BENGALS, 20-16

No. 21 Atlanta (plus 2 1/2) at No. 24 Arizona

Stamp the loser here as a team to ignore.

CARDINALS, 17-16

No. 6 San Francisco (minus 16 1/2) vs. No. 32 Jacksonville at London

Jags take their woeful squad across the pond.

49ERS, 30-10

No. 25 Cleveland (plus 7) at No. 2 Kansas City

Look for a defensive battle royale.

CHIEFS, 13-7

No. 23 Washington (plus 13) at No. 3 Denver

Look for little defense at all.

BRONCOS, 37-31

No. 18 Buffalo (plus 12 1/2) at No. 4 New Orleans

Bills won't make it a Big Easy for Saints.

SAINTS, 27-17

No. 17 Miami (plus 7) at No. 9 New England

A must-win for the Dolphins to stay relevant in AFC East. Sorry ...

PATRIOTS, 23-20

No. 19 (tie) Pittsburgh (minus 3) at No. 28 Oakland

Once a classic rivalry, now part of Pittsburgh's revival.

STEELERS, 17-16

No. 29 New York Giants (plus 6) at No. 19 (tie) Philadelphia

Taking a mulligan here. But either way, Giants cover.

With Michael Vick at QB, EAGLES, 24-20

Without Michael Vick at QB, GIANTS 27-10

---

2013 RECORD:

Against spread: 7-8 (47-58-3). Straight up: 8-7 (63-45).

Best Bet: 4-3 against spread, 7-0 straight up.

Upset special: 1-6 against spread, 1-6 straight up.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Jamarca SanfordMar 6 01:33p

New Orleans Saints SS Jamarca Sanford re-signed to a one-year contract Friday, March 6. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Brandon MarshallMar 6 01:23p

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall was traded to the New York Jets in exchange for a fifth-round pick, pending a physical, per a league source.

Niles PaulMar 6 12:33p

Washington Redskins TE Niles Paul re-signed Friday, March 6. Paul could earn up to a little under $10 million with the new contract.

Matt PraterMar 6 12:13p

Detroit Lions PK Matt Prater signed a three-year, $9 million contract extension Friday, March 6.

Marques ColstonMar 6 10:43a

New Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston restructured his contract Friday, March 6, and will return in 2015.

Reggie WayneMar 6 10:43a

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent WR Reggie Wayne will not be re-signed for 2015, the team announced Friday, March 6.

Jerome SimpsonMar 5 05:33p

Free-agent WR Jerome Simpson (Vikings) signed a two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers Thursday, March 5.

LaMarr WoodleyMar 5 05:13p

Oakland Raiders LB LaMarr Woodley was officially released Thursday, March 5.

Vince WilforkMar 5 01:23p

Free-agent DT Vince Wilfork (Patriots) said he still plans to play in 2015, and he could return to the New England Patriots. 'Can I still play football? Hell yea! [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 5 01:03p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's meeting with head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman Wednesday, March 4, went well after the parties spent more than four hours [ More ]

Peyton ManningMar 5 12:53p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning officially passed his physical and will return for the 2015 season.

Dwayne BoweMar 5 11:53a

Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe my be cut if the team can not trade him.

Vince WilforkMar 5 09:53a

New England Patriots DT Vince Wilfork announced that the Patriots will not pick up his option for the 2015 season, which makes him a free agent.

Darnell DockettMar 5 09:53a

Free-agent DE Darnell Dockett (Cardinals) agreed with the San Francisco 49ers Thursday, March 5, according to his agent Drew Rosenhaus.

Keith RiversMar 4 08:23p

Free-agent LB Keith Rivers (Bills) signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday, March 4. Rivers will add depth to the team's linebacking group. He has plenty of [ More ]

Matt CasselMar 4 07:53p

Minnesota Vikings QB Matt Cassel was traded to the Buffalo Bills Wednesday, March 4. The Bills swapped their 2015 fifth-round pick for the Vikings 2015 sixth-round draft pick. Minnesota [ More ]

Pierre ThomasMar 4 07:53p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas was released Wednesday, March 4.

Trent ColeMar 4 04:13p

Philadelphia Eagles LB Trent Cole was officially cut Wednesday, March 4.

DeMeco RyansMar 4 01:03p

Philadelphia Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans (Achilles'), who tore his Achilles' halfway through the 2014 season, probably won't be back with the team after they acquired LB Kiko Alonso from [ More ]

Andre JohnsonMar 4 11:23a

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson has asked the team to release him this offseason.

LeSean McCoyMar 3 06:43p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy will reportedly be traded for Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso.

Kiko AlonsoMar 3 06:43p

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy will reportedly be traded for Buffalo Bills LB Kiko Alonso.

Tyvon BranchMar 3 05:23p

Oakland Raiders SS Tyvon Branch was officially released, as expected, Tuesday, March 3.

DeMarco MurrayMar 3 01:43p

Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent RB DeMarco Murray would likely re-sign with the Cowboys if the offer they make him is equal or similar financially to offers he receives from [ More ]

Cole BeasleyMar 3 01:13p

Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $13.1 million. The extension could be worth as much as $15.1 million.

Andre JohnsonMar 2 11:03p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson was asked to accept a reduced role, but he declined and asked to be traded or cut, according to people familiar with the situation.

Bernard PollardMar 2 07:23p

Tennessee Titans SS Bernard Pollard has been informed that he will be released, according to sources familiar with the situation. Pollard asked the Titans to release him last month. [ More ]

Le'Veon BellMar 2 04:33p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell could be suspended up to four games, according to the NFL's new substance-abuse policy. A two-game suspension is standard for a DUI resulting from [ More ]

J.D. WaltonMar 2 04:13p

New York Giants C J.D. Walton was released Monday, March 2.

Lance MooreMar 2 04:03p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Lance Moore was released Monday, March 2.

Brad JonesMar 2 03:53p

Free-agent LB Brad Jones (Packers) signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, March 2. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Charles ClayMar 2 03:12p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay received the transition tag Monday, March 2, according to a source. The transition tag for tight ends is worth $7.071 million.

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