Each day for the next 16 days, BucsBlitz.com's Matthew Postins will take a quick look at each game on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2007 schedule. Some things to keep in mind:
Tampa Bay opens on the road for the fourth time in the last five years. The Bucs are 3-1 in that situation.
The Bucs have the third-easiest schedule in the NFL in 2007, by winning percentage.
The Bucs have just one prime-time game scheduled, Dec. 23 at San Francisco. That start time could change if NBC chooses to exercise its "flex scheduling" option for that week.
Tampa Bay at Carolina, 4:05 p.m., FOX, Sept. 30
The Panthers swept the Bucs last season.
Call me crazy, but I think the Panthers look really vulnerable this year. They've already lost LBs Vinny Ciurciu and Chris Draft, TE Kris Mangum, S Kevin McCadam and DE Al Wallace (who was fined for the hit many believe ruptured Bucs QB Chris Simms' spleen). In their place? DE Dave Ball, DT Chad Lavalais, and CB Curtis DeLoatch. Plus, they signed QB David Carr to back up QB Jake Delhomme.
That said, most of the veteran core is still together. Depth might be the greatest concern, as it was a year ago. The Bucs will be motivated. This is the "friendly" rivalry in the division, and if Simms is starting this game, look out. Yes, Wallace won't be there, but there will certainly be some sort of motivation on Simms' part to pick apart the Panthers. If the Bucs' offensive line is better and RB Cadillac Williams is running with more confidence, I could see Tampa Bay pulling off the upset and finishing the "first quarter" on a good note.
Final score: Tampa Bay 21, Carolina 17. Record: 2-2
— Matthew Postins