TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Vs. Carolina Panthers

Buccaneers
Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
Quarterback
The Bucs are going to retool this year as Greg Schiano tries to re-energize the franchise. He’s going with talented Josh Freeman at quarterback and is hoping that mistakes will not be as plentiful as they were a year ago.
Winner Cam Newton had a record-setting rookie season and his experience should make him better. Newton needs to cut down on mistakes but he is a brilliant athlete with a strong arm.
Offense
The Bucs may not have a prolific offense this year, but they will be tough and physical with Doug Martin and LaGarrette Blount at running back. Vincent Jackson is a big-play diva receiver who will soon learn that Freeman lacks accuracy.
Winner The Panthers should have one of the more balanced offenses as DeAngelo Williams gives them a credible ground attack to support Newton. Steve Smith should be fine for this game and Brandon LeFell can make the tough catch on third down.
Defense
The Bucs are no longer known for the defense they played when they had Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, but Schiano made his bones as a defensive coach. Gerald McCoy is probably the best lineman, but he has struggled to stay healthy.
Winner There’s only one way to go for the Panthers since they were miserable last season on defense, setting franchise-worst records for points allowed and passing yards allowed. Rivera is depending on Luke Kuechly to improve tackling.
Special Teams
Winner The Bucs were not thrilled with special teams last year but they will give placekicker Connor Barth and punter Michael Koenen another chance this season. Koenen is a decent kickoff man as well as a decent punter.
The Panthers were a disaster on special teams last year and Rivera has made changes on the coverage teams that should make them more competitive. Rookie Brad Nortman will handle the punting duties and he needs to speed up his delivery.

The Winner Is

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
Winner Panthers
3 out of 4

The Panthers have a chance to be one of the surprise teams in the league this year. The offense looks balanced and somewhat dangerous with Newton at the helm and Kuechly should be a tackling machine. The Bucs will play hard for Schiano but they won’t play well.

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  2. OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers looks to pass against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game on November 27, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 27:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks runs for several yards on the quarterback keeper during the second quarter of an NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 27, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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  3. TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 27:  Quarterback Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks for a receiver during the third quarter of an NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks on November 27, 2016 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers passes the ball during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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