Buccaneers vs. Panthers Key Players

As far as NFL picks go, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not be a bad play this weekend. They’re underdogs at home against a beatable team in Carolina, so what gives?

Well, there are a number of questions marks surrounding this team heading into the season. And it all starts at quarterback. Surprise surprise.

Will we see the Josh Freeman of 2010 or of 2011? Freeman had 25 touchdowns and six interceptions in his sophomore season and finished with a QB rating of 95.9. He was terrible last season though, throwing more picks (22) than touchdowns (16) and ending up with a 74.6 QB rating.

Early indications suggest Freeman is ready to respond. He’s looked good during the preseason and now has some new weapons to play with, like former San Diego Charger number one wideout Vincent Jackson for example.

Jackson’s arrival gives Tampa Bay a nice one-two punch with Mike Williams already locked into the other starting slot.

Another young guy will be key to the Bucs’ chances and that’s first round draft pick Doug Martin.

Martin outright won the starting job during camp, beating out LeGarrette Blount with relative ease. He’ll get pretty much all of the carries to start the season and could emerge as one of the most productive backs when everything’s said and done.

With Cam Newton and Steve Smith in town, Tampa Bay’s going to need secondary stars Aqib Talib, Eric Right and Ronde Barber to be all over the place.

Barber is getting up there in age but still has a great knack for being in the right place at the right time. He’s also been shifted over to free safety, which should help his production also.

In essence, the Buccaneers have to have Freeman passing with confidence, Martin running hard and their defense ready for anything against an explosive Newton.

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