Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers: Unit vs. Unit Breakdown

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer ISeptember 8, 2012

Can Josh Freeman outperform Cam Newton?
Can Josh Freeman outperform Cam Newton?Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Yes, a quick check of the latest lines this morning shows that the Carolina Panthers are still 2.5-point favorites over your Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

We're here to compare the units and to use our own unbiased (sort of) thought process to deliver a more specific breakdown of the on-field advantages.

Let's get right to it.



Quarterback: Josh Freeman vs. Cam Newton

If you go by what they did last year, it's Newton all over Freeman.

Newton is a dynamic playmaker with his arm and legs, a scoring threat on the ground and through the air. He's a total challenge for any defense.

Freeman? He flat-out stunk last year.

But that was then, and this is now. New weapons and better coaching give him every advantage for a huge comeback.

Still, I'd take Cam for my QB any day.

Advantage: CarolinaBig Advantage

Running game: Doug Martin, LeGarrette Blount, D.J. Ware, Michael Smith vs. DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Newton, Mike Tolbert

Stewart has been recovering from a bum ankle and may not play, a good thing for Tampa Bay.

Martin's going to put on a show for Buccaneers fans; he could bring ticket buyers back into the fold.

Again, the wild card is Newton. If the Bucs can keep him from scrambling on 3rd-and-long or 3rd-and-anything, it will really help.

Advantage: Toss Up


Receivers: Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Dallas Clark vs. Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Greg Olsen

Smith has had a foot infection, so we don't know how he'll perform. Still, the ones cancel out.

LaFell is a threat, but so is Williams in single coverage.

Olsen a bigger threat at tight end than Clark, although Clark will get open often.

Advantage: Tampa BaySlight Advantage


Offensive Line: Donald Penn, Carl Nicks, Jeremy Zuttah, Ted Larsen (?) and Jeremy Trueblood vs. Jordan Gross, Amini Silatolu, Matt Kalil, Geoff Hangartner and Byron Bell

If Davin Joseph were still in there, it would be a true Buc advantage.

Advantage:  Tampa BaySlight Advantage



Defensive Line: Adrian Clayborn, Gerald McCoy, Roy Miller and Michael Bennett vs. Greg Hardy, Frank Krause, Ron Edwards and Charles Johnson

Tough call here. Hardy is their best guy; Clayborn and McCoy could make the difference.

But how will the backups for each team perform?

That's the unknown.

Advantage: Tampa BayVery Slight Advantage


Linebackers: Lavonte David, Mason Foster and Quincy Black vs. Luke Kuechly, Jon Beason and James Anderson

Getting Jon Beason back really helps the Panthers—a lot. Tampa Bay fans will watch both Kuechly and David closely.

Advantage: CarolinaSlight Advantage


Secondary: Aqib Talib, Eric Wright, Mark Barron and Ronde Barber vs. Chris Gamble, Captain Munnerlin, Chris Godfrey and Haruki Nakamura

We really like the Bucs here. The secondary is Carolina's weakness. Josh Freeman and his receivers need to demote Captain Munnerlin to private.

Advantage: Tampa Bay—Big Advantage


Special Teams: Michael Koenin vs. Brad Nortman (Punters); Connor Barth vs. Justin Medlock (Kickers); Sammie Stroughter and Michael Smith vs. Joe Adams and Kealoha Pilares (Punt and Kick Returners)

We really like the Bucs in the kicking game. Koenin and Barth give Tampa Bay a big advantage. The Panthers cut Olindo Mare in favor of rookie Medlock. We love that.

Advantage:  Tampa BaySolid Advantage


Coaching: Greg Schiano and Staff vs. Ron Riviera and Staff

Advantage:  Unknown.


Overall: Tampa BaySlight Advantage

We have a feeling that this will be a close game. If it comes down the field goals, and we think it might, we love the Bucs' chances.

Tampa Bay 27, Carolina 24


Freeman and McCoy need to be "dynamic":  OneBucSite.com


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