TAMPA, Fla — For seven days, both the Carolina Panthers (0-1) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) have endured scrutiny following disappointing Week 1 results.
Despite the sparkling addition of quarterback Tom Brady, Tampa Bay teetered out of the gate. In New Orleans, the Bucs' offense looked knackered and disjointed during its 34-23 defeat. Brady, while accounting for all three of Tampa Bay's touchdowns, only passed for 160 yards and threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a score. The pick-six highlighted an underwhelming performance by Brady, who's clattered form in the pocket in his latest outings have become a storyline unto themselves.
In Charlotte, fans' hopes were dashed with the decision to keep the ball out of the hands of superstar running back Christian McCaffery on the decisive play of its opening day loss to Las Vegas. During the week, the collective knees of pundits across the Carolinas jerked to the conclusion that first-year offensive coordinator Joe Brady failed to incorporate the fourth-year All-Pro before it was too late, with the bulk of McCaffery's carries coming after the halftime break.
Both losses sat especially sour for each team's fanbase as Cam Newton's rollicking debut success replayed cross the sports media-sphere in the ensuing days after the game. Newton inherited Tom Brady's post in New England after Carolina unceremoniously booted him out of town as the regime changed in the spring.
In Week 2, the Panthers and Buccaneers will be forced to answer the questions hovering above their opening day failures. Is Brady is too far past his prime to threaten contention in the NFC South, let alone make Super Bowl push? Will Carolina's talented offense be held back by its inexperienced coaching staff?
Those questions, however, paint an especially intriguing picture at Raymond James Stadium of two teams grasping to prove reactive Week 1 impressions premature.
How to watch
Date: Sunday, Sept. 20 | Time: 1:00 p.m. EST
Location: Raymond James Stadium (Tampa Bay, Florida)
TV Coverage: CBS | (WFMY News 2 for Triad residents)
Prediction - Tampa Bay, 27 - Carolina, 23
Poor tackling gives Tampa Bay the lead early and afternoon thunderstorms dampen Carolina's comeback effort in a game where the scoreline flatters the visitors. Panthers' quarterback Teddy Bridgewater throws his first interception of the season while Tom Brady commits no turnovers, finding success throwing to 6'5" receiver Mike Evans against Carolina's young secondary.