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Tale of the tape

Tale Of The Tape: Carolina Panthers At Tampa Bay Buccaneers

(credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images) (credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
(credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images) (credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Carolina Panthers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

When the subject is talent and ability, Cam Newton does not have to take a backseat to too many quarterbacks. However, when the subject is consistency and confidence, Newton does not always measure up. When Newton keeps his mind on his business, he can be formidable. That should be the case in this game against the lowly Bucs. Quarterback Mike Glennon seems to have a good understanding of what head coach Greg Schiano wants to do with his offense, but the Bucs don’t have the kind of weapons to help him run a consistent attack. Glennon is best served by throwing short- and medium-range passes and using a solid running game. However, if Doug Martin (shoulder) is not healthy, it’s a tough assignment for Glennon.
The Panthers have the kind of physical talent on the offensive side of the ball to be a very dangerous team. Start off with running back DeAngelo Williams, who has the breakaway ability and change of direction to cause havoc for the defense. Wide receiver Steve Smith and tight end Greg Olsen will get open and catch the ball, but Smith needs to produce more big plays. Offense The Bucs need to use a physical, pounding attack if they are going to be successful because Glennon is a limited quarterback. Martin is the kind of running back who can carry a team for long stretches, but only if he is 100 percent healthy. With just a little bit of help from the running game, Vincent Jackson can be a gamebreaking receiver because of his strength and hands.
The Panthers have one of the most intimidating defensive teams in the league. They rank third in total yards allowed and they punish opponents every chance they get. Luke Kuechly is one of the NFL’s best middle linebackers. He almost always makes the tackle when he gets a chance to wrap up the ball carrier and he is excellent in pass coverage. Defensive end Greg Hardy is a solid pass rusher. Defense The Bucs do a solid job on defense, but that unit is not good enough to overcome all of the team’s offensive inefficiencies. Outside linebacker Lavonte David is fast and physical, but he has not always been able to control his emotions. Free safety Dashon Goldson is almost always around the ball and he is perhaps the team’s best tackler.
The Panthers would like to get a lot more out of their return game than they do. Ted Ginn is one of the most explosive returners in the league, but he has yet to break a big one. Graham Gano has been a very dependable field goal kicker, while Brad Nortman gets excellent height on his punts. Special Teams The Bucs have been dependable in the punt and kickoff coverage, but they don’t have anyone who is going to break a long play. Rian Lindell is not a good enough placekicker, but punter Michael Koenen is a dependable directional punter who can keep an opponent in check.

The winner is

(credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Carolina Panthers
3 out of 4

The Panthers have given a few hints that they are starting to improve, but it would not be a shocker if they failed to attend to business against a divisional rival on the road. If Ron Rivera could get his players to compete at a higher level, the Panthers have the kind of talent that would allow them to dominate.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

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