A Preview Of Week 2


This match-up of the youngest teams in the league, including what PFT alleges is the lowest salaried team in Tampa Bay, is likely to be a more polished, more entertaining game and not just due to the general increase from week 1 to week 2.

For starters, Josh Freeman is more recovered from his thumb injury and, potentially, his car accident (I’m not going to insinuate it influenced his play; I’m not Ken Whisenhunt).

Additionally, the Bucs and Panthers hate each other. I expect a chippy game and I hope it starts with the Bucs defensive line, which should be disappointed in not getting a sack last week.

When Tampa is throwing: Stay away from FS Charles Godfey. Freeman served up his only INT last season, and now that he has replaced Chris Harris, he matched his career total by intercepting Eli Manning twice last Sunday. That said, Manning actually did pick on him deep a few times last week, while also throwing at CB Richard Marshall and SS Captain Munnerlyn. Freeman needs to make sure he’s not staring down receivers because John Fox generally has a well-disciplined defense. Freeman needs to know which of his receivers he can trust to come up with a jump ball, Mike Williams, if he wants to avoid the 4 INT performance of last year. This, of course, will be assisted if they don’t fall behind early. Edge: Tampa Bay, slightly.

When Tampa is running: They are going up against another unestablished front seven. Carolina did make a big offer to Julius Peppers to keep him around, but he’s gone and LB Thomas Davis is out for the year, too. Even with Peppers last year, the Panthers were tied for 20th in yards-per-carry allowed, with 4.4. Donald Penn and guys know they need to do a little more to help spring the running backs and get Freeman’s strong play-action game going. I hope to see Cadillac, LaGarrette Blount, and Earnest Graham softening up their defense. Edge: even.

When Carolina is passing: Aqib Talib and the rest of the Bucs secondary need to make Matt Moore uncomfortable. Steve Smith is still a top receiver in the NFL and is used in a lot of different ways. It looks like Brandon Lafell will miss this game, leaving Dante Rosario and Dwayne Jarrett as the only other true passing threats. Edge: Carolina, I believe in Moore.

When Carolina is running: Sound tackling is important. Jonathan Stewart and Deangelo Williams are both great at breaking tackles and making people miss in the open field. Edge: Carolina.

X-Factors:

Special Teams Edge: Tampa Bay; Play-calling Edge: Carolina slightly.

Prediction: Tampa Bay had no trouble moving the ball on Carolina last year in Freeman’s first game against them, churning up 469 yards of offense vs. 309 for Carolina but still lost 16-6. In this battle of two upstart teams, I expect Greg Olson to have a gameplan that allows Freeman to get in a rhythm and put the ball in the playmakers’ hands and let them run after the catch. I also expect a Matt Moore bounce-back game. I really think him making just a few more big plays than Josh Freeman, not the turnovers or the road environment, will be the difference. Panthers 32, Buccaneers 28.

Other predictions, home team in bold:

Green Bay 38, Buffalo 6
Minnesota 28, Miami 21
Cleveland 24, Kansas City 21
Dallas 42, Chicago 27
Arizona 21, Atlanta 20
Detroit 34, Philadelphia 31 OT
Baltimore 28, Cincinnati 13
Tennessee 9, Pittsburgh 6
Denver 24, Seattle 21
Oakland 21, St. Louis 10
Houston 35, Washington 24
New England 27, New York Jets 14
San Diego 27, Jacksonville 21
Indianapolis 17, New York Giants 16
New Orleans 38, San Francisco 21


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One Response to “A Preview Of Week 2”

  1. The Buccs will overcome the Panthers this time.

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