Monday, June 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The "Legion of Boom" might be destined for doom Monday night. Seattle's secondary, with its well-earned moniker, is shorthanded as it heads into a showdown with New Orleans. CB Walter Thurmond has been suspended four games and CB Brandon Browner faces a yearlong ban for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. The Seahawks still boast S Earl Thomas and CB Richard Sherman, but they'll need all the help they can get against the Drew Brees-led Saints, especially with the NFC's top seed on the line. This mega-matchup is like the unstoppable force against the immovable object. New Orleans boasts the second-ranked passing offense, and the Seahawks — thanks to the "Legion of Boom" — the second-best passing defense. Seattle QB Russell Wilson is undefeated (13-0) at his home, Century Link Field, one of the toughest venues to play in, and has WR Percy Harvin as an added weapon (though the former Florida Gator might miss the game). But if any team can come in and upset Seattle, it might be the Saints, especially with Brees having another spectacular season. New Orleans also has an opportunistic defense, led by first-year coordinator Rob Ryan, with 37 sacks, tied for most in the league. Wouldn't be surprised if this one is as exciting as the teams' last game in Seattle. In the 2011 wild-card game, the then-defending champion Saints were upset by the 7-9 Seahawks 41-36. And with both teams nearly unbeatable at home, this one could go a long way in determining who will be in the Super Bowl for the NFC.

Upset of the week

Vikings over Bears

The Bears' run defense has been porous, allowing a season-high 258 yards last week against the Rams. Just wait until Adrian Peterson runs through them.

Nick of time

Last week, Eagles coach Chip Kelly (right) said QB Nick Foles will start for the remainder of the season. What took him so long? Foles has 16 touchdowns to no interceptions, and Michael Vick can't stay healthy due to a nagging hamstring injury. Vick saw it coming and took the demotion in stride. "I didn't want to make this a hard decision for Coach (Kelly)," Vick said. "I didn't want to make it a hard decision on anybody, including myself. I can't be frustrated. I just want it to be a smooth transition."

Who's hot?

Cardinals: They've won four straight and at 7-4 are in the thick of the NFC playoff race. Sure, three of those wins came against the Falcons, Texans and Jaguars. But Arizona was impressive in thumping Indianapolis 40-11 last week. Carson Palmer, who has averaged 325 passing yards over the past three games, makes the Cardinals a legitimate threat.

Who's not?

Colts: Not quite sure what to make of them. Are they the Super Bowl contenders that beat up the 49ers and outscored the Broncos? Or are they the pretenders that got blown out by the Rams and Cardinals in two of the past three weeks? They once had a stranglehold on the AFC South but now are just two games ahead of the Titans. Tell you what: QB Andrew Luck sure misses WR Reggie Wayne.

Power rankings

1. Seahawks (10-1)

2. Broncos (9-2)

3. Saints (9-2)

4. Chiefs (9-2)

5. Panthers (8-3)

6. Patriots (8-3) Quote of the week

"He's, obviously, a man, and he makes his own decisions. But I, personally, don't feel he should be playing right now. You can see it. Everybody can see it."

49ers LB Ahmad Brooks on struggling Redskins QB Robert Griffin III and his surgically repaired knee to csnwashington.com

Quick reads

• Just a couple of weeks ago, the Chiefs were perfect. Now after back-to-back losses, Kansas City could be in trouble in today's home rematch with the Broncos. Of their top pass rushers, LB Tamba Hali is hobbled by a sprained right ankle but will play while LB Justin Houston is out with a slightly dislocated right elbow.

• As much as CB Aqib Talib was a headache in Tampa Bay, he could be a real weapon for the Patriots down the stretch. Talib held the Broncos' matchup nightmare, Demaryius Thomas, to a season-low 41 yards on four catches in last week's overtime win.

• Houston, we have a problem. The hottest seat might belong to coach Gary Kubiak, whose team has lost nine straight after a 2-0 start — including getting beat by the Jaguars last week. It has been a tough enough season for Kubiak, who suffered a mini-stroke last month.

Times wires contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow him at @TBTimes_JSmith.

Comments
Bucs journal: O.J. Howard poised to take off?

Bucs journal: O.J. Howard poised to take off?

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Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape charges

Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape charges

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Bucs still don’t know when Jameis Winston will throw another pass that matters

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Bucs busy on next Ray-Jay renovation with East Stadium Club

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The first Bucs home game of the 2018 season is still three months off, but the franchise is busy getting Raymond James Stadium ready with the fourth phase of its $160 million renovation, highlighted by a new East Stadium Club.Construction continues t...
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Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Gerald McCoy sounds off

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Gerald McCoy sounds off

The Bucs wrap up minicamp as Gerald McCoy sounds off on the team getting help for him, defensive line coach Brentson Buckner yelling at the veteran defensive tackle and advice for the young players who now have five weeks off before training camp.Plu...
Published: 06/15/18
Gerald McCoy: ‘Stop saying Gerald got help. No, the Bucs got help’

Gerald McCoy: ‘Stop saying Gerald got help. No, the Bucs got help’

TAMPA — On the last day of minicamp, DT Gerald McCoy made it clear that the new additions to the defensive line are what the entire team needed, not just himself."It's not about me. It's about the team," McCoy said of the addition of five new l...
Published: 06/14/18
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Bucs hit summer break with optimism, eager for training camp

Bucs hit summer break with optimism, eager for training camp

TAMPA — This week's three-day minicamp was the final push in the Bucs' offseason, with about six weeks now until the team reconvenes in late July for training camp and the real preamble to the 2018 season.So what, if anything, can be gleaned fr...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Maybe 2018 is the year the Bucs take that step forward

Maybe 2018 is the year the Bucs take that step forward

TAMPA — The Bucs wrapped up a three-day minicamp on Thursday.“I’m going on vacation,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said.The next time we see the Bucs will be in five weeks. Just around the corner. That’s when, official...
Published: 06/14/18
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Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow arrested on suspicion of rape, kidnapping

Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow arrested on suspicion of rape, kidnapping

Times wiresSAN DIEGO – Former Bucs and Hurricanes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was arrested Thursday on suspicion of multiple sex-crimes-related charges, including two counts of rape, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.The departmen...
Published: 06/14/18
Sealed and delivered: Bucs RB Ronald Jones signs rookie contract

Sealed and delivered: Bucs RB Ronald Jones signs rookie contract

The Bucs' 2018 draft class is now all in the fold, with running back Ronald Jones, second-rounder from USC, signing his rookie deal Thursday.Jones, who won't turn 21 until August after the Bucs go to training camp, was the last of Tampa Bay's eight d...
Published: 06/14/18