Week 1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Vs. Carolina Panthers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
The Bucs are going to retool this year as head coach Greg Schiano tries to re-energize the franchise. He’s going with talented but inconsistent Josh Freeman at quarterback and he is hoping that mistakes will not be as plentiful as they were a year ago when he turned the ball over 27 times.
Winner It’s difficult for head coach Ron Rivera to feel anything but optimistic when the subject is Cam Newton. He 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.
The Bucs may not have a prolific offense this year, but they will be tough and physical with Doug Martin and LaGarrette Blount at the running back slot. 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 in the league this season as DeAngelo Williams gives them a credible ground attack to support Newton’s passing. Veteran Steve Smith (foot) should be fine for this game and Brandon LeFell can make the tough catch on third down.
The Bucs are no longer known for the stellar defense they played when they had stars like Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp. Schiano made his bones as a defensive coach and he will make sure the Bucs will hit. Defensive tackle 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 rookie middle linebacker 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.


  1. MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 9: Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans drops back to pass during the first quarter of the game on October 9, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  Trevor Siemian #13 of the Denver Broncos warms up before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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  3. FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 16:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots prepares to receive a snap during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on October 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback  Landry Jones #3 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass during warm ups before playing against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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