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.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Peyton Manning (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
    Super Bowl 50 Tale: Panthers Have Edge Over Broncos

    It will be a shock if Cam Newton is not handed the NFL’s MVP award the night before the Super Bowl. He is a game-changing superstar who is still ascending.

  2. ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 02: Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals throws against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium on November 2, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
    NFC Championship Tale: Arizona Cardinals At Carolina Panthers

    The Cardinals have depended on Carson Palmer to lead them all season, and he was good enough to lead them to a 13-3 record during the season.

  3. Tom Brady (Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images) Peyton Manning (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
    AFC Championship Tale: New England Patriots At Denver Broncos

    The New England offense had new life in the win over Kansas City with the return of wideout Julian Edelman.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS Tampa

Movie Review: Deadpool"In this critic’s opinion, Deadpool is the toughest comic book character to translate to the big screen..."
Man Who Killed Wife, Put Photo on Facebook to be SentencedA South Florida man who fatally shot his wife and posted a photo of her body on Facebook could be sentenced to life in prison.

Listen Live