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

Alshon JefferySep 22 07:21p

Chicago Bears WRs Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (ankle) are both active for the Week 3 game against the New York Jets. Both were questionable for the game.

Brandon MarshallSep 22 07:13p

Chicago Bears WRs Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (ankle) are both active for the Week 3 game against the New York Jets. Both were questionable for the game.

Eric DeckerSep 22 07:13p

New York Jets WR Eric Decker (hamstring) is active for the team's Week 3 game against the Chicago Bears Monday, Sept. 22.

A.J. EddsSep 22 07:13p

The New York Jets have declared LB A.J. Edds, OG Ben Ijalana, OL Dakota Dozier, CB Dee Milliner, DE IK Enemkpali, DL T.J. Barnes, WR Walter Powell inactive for Week 3.

Eric DeckerSep 22 06:23p

New York Jets WR Eric Decker (hamstring) said he felt good while working out before the game and expects to play in Week 3.

Jamaal CharlesSep 22 06:13p

Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (ankle) will 'most likely' return to practice this week after sitting out in Week 3, according to head coach Andy Reid. Kansas City [ More ]

Nate FreeseSep 22 04:17p

The Lions released Freese on Monday.

Mike TolbertSep 22 03:03p

Carolina Panthers FB Mike Tolbert (leg) has a hairline fracture in his leg. The timetable for his return is unknown.

Donald BrownSep 22 02:43p

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Jonathan StewartSep 22 02:43p

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Kyle RudolphSep 22 02:13p

Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (groin) will need surgery and is expected to miss about six weeks.

Marqise LeeSep 22 02:13p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (hamstring) will be evaluated during the week but is not expected to play in Week 4.

Vincent JacksonSep 22 02:13p

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Josh McCownSep 22 02:03p

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Frank GoreSep 22 01:53p

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Ryan TannehillSep 22 01:32p

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Stephen TullochSep 22 01:22p

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Jason KelceSep 22 01:12p

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Chris ProsinskiSep 22 01:12p

Jacksonville Jaguars FS Chris Prosinski (elbow) will miss two to four weeks because of an elbow injury.

Eric DeckerSep 22 12:52p

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Alex HenerySep 22 12:43p

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T Y HiltonSep 22 11:32a

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Darrelle RevisSep 22 11:02a

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Ike TaylorSep 22 09:32a

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