The Carolina Panthers will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in one of two late afternoon starts as Week 1 of the NFL 2014 regular season continues. Today's game takes place at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida and has a start time of 4.25 p.m. ET. The game can be watched on TV on the Fox network, or online through live stream (details below).
In pre-game news, Cam Newton has been confirmed as still injured, but he is still expected to start and play for the Panthers. He is pivotal in how the Panthers' season will turn out, and the team will be throwing him right in the mix in the hope that he can lead them to an opening day win to take control in the NFC South.
Carolina will remember how they made their season tough last year when they slumped to a 1-3 record after their first four games. They will want to start significantly better this term, and continue their form from the last two-thirds of the season when they won 11 of their last 12 games, and had arguably the best defense in the league.
It is likely that the Panthers will be too much for Tampa Bay this afternoon, but this is opening day, and every team is equal at this point, and the Buccaneers will be hoping to cause an upset and kick start their season with a big win.
The game will start at 4.25 p.m. ET and can be watched on Fox or online through live stream by clicking here.
Season Overview, Predictions
This season the Seattle Seahawks are looking to become the first repeat Super Bowl champions since the New England Patriots accomplished the feat following the 2004 season.
They are a strong team, led by the strong partnership of general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll. The pair are not afraid to push their players through training camp to get them into top shape for the season, and they have also maintained a healthy feed of young, hungry and talented players, which makes the competition for a roster spot and a starting position immense.
They will need to be at their best though if they are to win a second straight Super Bowl this season. The 49ers will no doubt push them all the way in the NFC West, but the Seahawks, who are even more improved than last season, with quarterback Russell Wilson having another year of experience under his belt, will likely be too much for the 49ers.
In the NFC South the Saints continue to build, and they should take the NFC South after failing to do so for the past two seasons.
The Green Bay Packers will be favorites to win the NFC North, although the super competitive division from last season should continue this term, so expect Detroit, Minnesota and Chicago all to put up a fight.
The NFC East was arguably the weakest division last season, and given the Cowboys' horrid defensive record, the New York Giants misfiring badly in offense throughout preseason, and RGIII still not looking at the level of a league top quarterback, this division could go to the Philadelphia Eagles this year. Pundits are overwhelmingly predicting this will be the Eagles' year and they should have enough to fulfill those predictions.
The AFC West will see Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos on a serious mission to right the wrongs of last season. The manner of their Super Bowl defeat will have been painful, and a player like Manning will be using it for fuel to push him even further forward this year. Manning has at least one more big season in him, and the Broncos have as good a chance as any team of winning the Super Bowl this season.
The AFC South should see the Indianapolis Colts continue to go from strength to strength. Andrew Luck is shaping up into one of the league's best quarterbacks, but some analysts are saying he might need another year before he starts consistently competing at the very top with Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. The Colts should have the AFC South in the bag though and could go far in the postseason.
The AFC North could be a tight one, but the Cincinnati Bengals will believe they can improve upon last year's showing and snatch the division title and go for a strong run in the postseason. A lot of that will depend on how well Andy Dalton does, but this is a team going places. Of course no one should write off the Baltimore Ravens, and with Joe Flacco pulling the strings they might be able to overpower the Bengals for the division title.
Finally, the AFC East should be the New England Patriot's to lose. They have been missing a defensive edge, but with Darrelle Revis, that problem should be resolved. If Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski can stay fit and healthy then you can't see anyone being able to topple the Patriots for the division title. The New York Jets will be hoping for a postseason berth, but they as well as the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins have serious consistency problems, and that could undermine each of their campaigns.