TALE OF THE TAPE

Tale Of The Tape: Carolina Panthers At Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers
Buffalo Bills
(credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(credit: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
(credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(credit: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Winner It’s a very critical season for Cam Newton, who rarely plays with the consistency that head coach Ron Rivera needs to see from him. While Newton is a brilliant athlete who can run away from defenders and make difficult throws, he will not string good plays together and that makes it difficult for the Panthers to keep any momentum.
The Bills came close to coming away with the upset win over the Pats in Week One, and much of that was due to the surprising play of rookie QB E.J. Manuel who completed 18-of-27 passes and did not throw an interception. Manuel has size, strength and a solid arm and he showed the patience needed to wait for his receivers to get open.
Offense
Winner Steve Smith continues to play with fire and energy even though he should be slowing down at the age of 34. He can get open and he will fight for the ball even though he is often going up against much bigger opponents. DeAngelo Williams is a good running back who can take pressure off of Newton. TE Greg Olsen will not drop the ball on third down.
The Bills have an explosive big-play performer in WR Stevie Johnson, who caught a touchdown pass against the Pats. Fred Jackson is a good running back who is also dangerous as a receiver. Scott Chandler is not a burner, but he will get open and he won’t drop the ball very often.
Defense
Winner The Panthers could not come away with the home upset over the Seahawks, but they kept Seattle from mounting a consistent attack. Charles Godfrey had nine tackles and a sack for Rivera’s defense, while linebacker Luke Kuechly (nine stops) may be the most dependable tackler in the league. The Panthers usually play with a ferocity on defense that prevents opponents from mounting long drives.
Winner The Bills would like to see defensive end Mario Williams play up to his talent level and dominate every week. However, while Williams is a force when he starts the game with a big play, he can also disappear for long periods. Safety Da’Norris Searcy showed he has big-play ability when he picked up a Stevan Ridley fumble and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown against the Patriots.
Special Teams
Winner The Panthers feel like they will have an edge on special teams over nearly every opponent they play because of explosive return specialist Ted Ginn. PK Graham Gano is not a star, but he has decent range and made 9-of-11 FG attempts last year.
The Bills don’t appear to have a lot of special teams answers at this point. Dan Carpenter is an ordinary field goal kicker, while punter Shawn Powell is slightly above average. The Bills are not going to threaten to make big plays in the return game.

The Winner Is

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

The Panthers are under pressure this season, and if they do not have a winning season, it is going to be difficult for head coach Ron Rivera to hold on to his job. Even though they have to go on the road, they should be able to come out of Buffalo with the win.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

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