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Michael Taylor 7th Dec 2008 - 23:43

Panthers v Bucs for southern supremacy

The Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers go into battle on Monday Night Football knowing the winner will most likely reach the play-offs as NFC South champions.

The two franchises find themselves locked at the top of the division boasting 9-3 records and with just four games remaining (including this one) the team that reaches ten wins first will be favourite to rule over one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.

In the first meeting between the teams this season the impressive Tampa defence turned the screw limiting the Panthers to just three points in the 27-3 victory back in week six, and it is not impossible to believe that Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme is in for a similar experience this time around given the Bucs third-rated pass defence.

However, DeAngelo Williams has been in superb form of late for the Panthers, running in nine tds in the past five games and his presence may prove dangerous enough to help establish the aerial offence.

While Carolina's frailties were plain for everyone to see in the last meeting, Tampa know veteran QB Jeff Garcia has to be at his very best as defence is only 50% of football and can only take you so far.

Garcia was replaced with Brian Griese after the first game of the season but, instead of sulking, the former four-time Pro Bowler worked on getting into better shape and forcing his way back into the side.

The hard work has certainly paid off as he continues putting in stellar performances and if he produces one more then the 31/20 about a Buccaneers win looks good value while Carolina at 4/7 look hard to back given their week six hammering.

In terms of first touchdown scorer the most obvious choice has to be DeAngelo Williams, who, at 11/2, looks like the best betting option available in the game.

Other viable options are Warrick Dunn (11/2), Steve Smith (13/2) and, perhaps most interestingly, Cadillac Williams (9/1) who is becoming ever more important in the Bucs offence.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers betting

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