Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Breaking down Week 2

Titans (1-0) at Texans (1-0)

1 p.m. Texans by 9½, 43

The Texans didn't make it look easy in the opener, needing to overcome a three-touchdown, second-half deficit to beat the Chargers on Monday. But the veteran-laden team looked like it's poised for a playoff run and got a strong night from QB Matt Schaub, above, with 346 yards and three touchdowns. Houston shouldn't need such a rally against the Titans, who mustered just 229 yards in a win over the Steelers. The defense is tough, however, and that could make this one closer than anticipated.

The pick: Texans 24, Titans 13

Lions (1-0) at Cardinals (0-1)

4 p.m. Lions by 1½, 48

QB Matt Stafford, above, threw for more than 300 yards and DT Ndamukong Suh got flagged — and fined — for a dirty play. Things never change in Detroit. The Lions overcame Suh's low block of Vikings C John Sullivan, which nullified a touchdown and led to a $100,000 fine. That's because Stafford has a new weapon in RB Reggie Bush, who had a highlight-reel 77-yard touchdown catch. The Lions should win in a game with two of the NFL's best receivers, Detroit's Calvin Johnson and Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald.

The pick: Lions 28, Cardinals 21

Jaguars (0-1) at Raiders (0-1)

4:25 p.m. Raiders by 5½, 39½

Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor, above, was dynamic in his first start, including 112 yards rushing while almost upsetting the Colts. Pryor's presence should make a potentially long season for Oakland a little more interesting. It could be worse. They could be the Jaguars, who tallied two points and 178 yards in a season-opening loss to the Chiefs. RB Maurice Jones-Drew put it perfectly when he said, "I don't know as an offense if you can do much worse." QB Chad Henne replaces injured Blaine Gabbert for Jacksonville.

The pick: Raiders 20, Jaguars 6

Broncos (1-0) at Giants (0-1)

4:25 p.m. Broncos by 4½, 55

The Manning Bowl promises to be another strong showdown with brothers Peyton, above, and Eli each passing for more than 450 yards in their first games. The older, Peyton, of course, has bragging rights with his record seven touchdown passes against the Ravens. But Eli needs this one a little more thanks to the Giants' season-opening loss to the division rival Cowboys. After RB David Wilson's two-fumble performance, the Giants brought back Brandon Jacobs to bolster their depth with some surer hands.

The pick: Giants 31, Broncos 28

Steelers (0-1) at Bengals (0-1)

8:40 Monday, Bengals by 7, 41

The season couldn't have started any worse for the Steelers, who lost an ugly game to the Titans then found out they lost Pro Bowl C Maurkice Pounce (torn right knee ligaments) and LB Larry Foote (torn biceps) to season-ending injuries. QB Ben Roethlisberger had a rough day, getting sacked five times, and the Steelers amassed just 195 yards. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, the rest of the division lost, too, including Andy Dalton, above, and the Bengals to the Bears. That makes this one a battle for first place.

The pick: Bengals 21, Steelers 14

49ers (1-0) at Seahawks (1-0)

8:30 p.m. Seahawks by 3, 44½

This is turning into one of the league's best new rivalries with the teams likely heading for a yearlong fight for the NFC West title — and potentially NFC top seed. Both boast dual-threat quarterbacks in San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick and Seattle's Russell Wilson, above. Both have stout and tough defenses. And both come off close wins in Week 1, Seattle over Carolina and San Francisco over Green Bay. You can bet the Seahawks have been waiting for this matchup for a while, and they're difficult to beat at home.

The pick: Seahawks 27, 49ers 23

Rams (1-0) at Falcons (0-1)

1 p.m. Falcons by 5½, 46½

The Falcons nearly stole one in the Superdome last week, but a late Matt Ryan pass was intercepted in the end zone to cap a 23-17 loss. Atlanta boasts enough weapons to make another division title run but must do a better job protecting Ryan, above, who was sacked or under duress 12 times last week. The Rams overcame an 11-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Cardinals for their first season-opening win since 2006. Expect a high-scoring game after both teams passed for more than 300 yards in Week 1.

The pick: Falcons 31, Rams 23

Panthers (0-1) at Bills (0-1)

1 p.m. Panthers by 3, 43½

The Bills nearly pulled off an upset of the Patriots in their first game under coach Doug Marrone and rookie QB EJ Manuel, above, the former Florida State standout. Manuel had an encouraging debut, 150 yards and two touchdowns, despite flashes of inconsistency. But Buffalo gave up 156 yards on the ground, and that spells trouble considering rushing is the Panthers' strength. They racked up 134 yards in losing 12-7 to the Seahawks. Should be a fun matchup between Manuel and Panthers QB Cam Newton.

The pick: Bills 21, Panthers 13

Vikings (0-1) at Bears (1-0)

1 p.m. Bears by 6, 41½

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson picked up where he left off from his comeback season from a year ago, coming through with a 78-yard touchdown on his first carry of the season. But QB Christian Ponder struggled, throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble in a loss to Detroit. Minnesota will have a tougher time running against the Bears, who gave up just 60 yards rushing to the Bengals last week. The Marc Trestman era in Chicago started well with QB Jay Cutler, above, and WR Brandon Marshall clicking.

The pick: Bears 21, Vikings 10

Redskins (0-1) at Packers (0-1)

1 p.m. Packers by 7, 49½

Odds are, Redskins QB Robert Griffin III won't play as poorly as he did early against the Eagles, his first game since reconstructive knee surgery. Griffin, who didn't play a snap during the preseason, threw two interceptions as Washington trailed 33-7. But he rebounded to throw three touchdown passes. And he could top that against the Packers, who allowed 412 passing yards to the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick last week. But QB Aaron Rodgers, above, packs some punch, too and should prevail in a shootout.

The pick: Packers 34, Redskins 31

Dolphins (1-0) at Colts (1-0)

1 p.m. Colts by 2, 43½

Colts QB Andrew Luck, above, is coming off another fourth-quarter comeback. But this time, he beat the Raiders with his feet, a go-ahead 19-yard touchdown run with 5:20 remaining. Indianapolis wasn't sharp overall with penalties, miscues and four sacks allowed. But this week, the Colts won't have to chase QB Terrelle Pryor, who ran for 112 yards against them. Defense carried the Dolphins over Brandon Weeden and the Browns in their season opener. But they face a much tougher task today.

The pick: Colts 28, Dolphins 17

Browns (0-1) at Ravens (0-1)

1 p.m. Ravens by 6½, 43½

The defending Super Bowl champion Ravens had a rough opener, allowing seven touchdown passes to Peyton Manning in a blowout loss to the Broncos. They should have much less trouble against the Browns' Brandon Weeden, who was sacked six times in a Week 1 loss to Miami. Joe Flacco, above, threw for 362 yards against Denver but also two interceptions while being sacked four times. To pull off an upset, the Browns will need a big day from Trent Richardson, who had just 47 yards on 13 carries last week

The pick: Ravens 27, Browns 10

Cowboys (1-0) at Chiefs (1-0)

1 p.m. Chiefs by 3, 46½

The Cowboys got the gorilla off their back in finally beating the Giants at home last week thanks to a great performance by QB Tony Romo. Romo suffered bruised ribs during the game but should be fine today against the new-look Chiefs. The Andy Reid era got off to a solid start with Kansas City's defense allowing just 178 yards — though it came against QB Blaine Gabbert and the lowly Jaguars. QB Alex Smith, above, might carry a larger load with RB Jamaal Charles suffering a quadriceps injury last week.

The pick: Chiefs 24, Cowboys 20

The Bucs revamped their secondary in the offseason, bringing in All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis and All-Pro S Dashon Goldson, largely for games such as this. The Saints and QB Drew Brees have one of the league's most dangerous passing offenses, and now they've got their play-calling director, coach Sean Payton, back from a one-year suspension. As Bucs DT Gerald McCoy said: "The Saints are back."

What the Saints do best

Air it out. Behind Drew Brees, the Saints boast a prolific passing attack with an array of weapons, including TE Jimmy Graham, WR Marques Colston and RB Darren Sproles.

How you beat the Saints

Keep their offense off the field. RB Doug Martin (right) had a rough day against the Jets (65 yards), but the Bucs need to get him going and control the clock. Though the new-look Saints defense is improved, QB Josh Freeman has had success in seasons past against them and needs to open it up for Martin.

Saints' top offensive player

Drew Brees threw for eight touchdowns and 684 yards with a 69.7 completion percentage while getting sacked only once as New Orleans swept the series last season.

Saints' top defensive player

DE Cameron Jordan racked up eight sacks last season and is tough against the run.

The Bucs must avoid …

Penalties. Tampa Bay committed 13 for 102 yards in last week's loss to the Jets. You can't give a team such as the Saints that many chances.

The pick

Saints 31, Bucs 24

Chargers (0-1) at Eagles (1-0)

1 p.m. Eagles by 7, 54½

The Chip Kelly Express has taken over in Philadelphia, with the ex-Oregon coach's frenetic read-option offense getting off to a sparkling start last week against the Redskins. The Eagles ran an astounding 53 plays in the first half, picking up the pace and racking up the yards, including 263 on the ground. QB Michael Vick and RB LeSean McCoy, above, appear to be perfect fits for Kelly's system. The Chargers also can pile up the points, but it will be interesting if the defense can catch its breath against Philadelphia.

The pick: Eagles 34, Chargers 21

Projected starters

Bucs offense

WR: Vincent Jackson

LT: Donald Penn

LG: Gabe Carimi

C: Jeremy Zuttah

RG: Davin Joseph

RT: Demar Dotson

TE: Luke Stocker

WR: Mike Williams

QB: Josh Freeman

RB: Doug Martin

FB: Erik Lorig

Saints offense

WR: Marques Colston

LT: Charles Brown

LG: Ben Grubbs

C: Brian De La Puente

RG: Jahri Evans

RT: Zach Strief

TE: Jimmy Graham

WR: Lance Moore

QB: Drew Brees

RB: Mark Ingram

FB: Jed Collins

Special teams

P/KO: Michael Koenen

PK: Rian Lindell

LS: Andrew Economos

KR/PR: Eric Page

Special teams

P/KO: Thomas Morstead

PK: Garrett Hartley

LS: Justin Drescher

KR/PR: Darren Sproles

defense

DE: Daniel Te'o-Nesheim

DT: Gerald McCoy

DT: Akeem Spence

DE: Adrian Clayborn

SLB: Dekoda Watson

MLB: Mason Foster

WLB: Lavonte David

LCB: Darrelle Revis

RCB: Leonard Johnson

SS: Mark Barron

FS: Dashon Goldson

defense

DE: Akiem Hicks

NT: John Jenkins

DE: Cameron Jordan

OLB: Junior Galette

ILB: David Hawthorne

ILB: Curtis Lofton

OLB: Parys Haralson

LCB: Jabari Greer

RCB: Keenan Lewis

SS: Roman Harper

FS: Malcolm Jenkins

Injury report

BUCS Out: CB Michael Adams (knee), TE Tom Crabtree (ankle). Questionable: CB Rashaan Melvin (hamstring), G Carl Nicks (foot). Probable: DE Adrian Clayborn (hip), RB Erik Lorig (calf).

SAINTS Out: S Isa Abdul-Quddus (ankle), NT Brodrick Bunkley (calf), DE Tyrunn Walker (knee). Questionable: DE Glenn Foster (ankle), CB Jabari Greer (back), S Roman Harper (knee), DE Akiem Hicks (knee), DE Tom Johnson (foot), CB Patrick Robinson (foot), CB Corey White (ill). Probable: WR Marques Colston (foot), G Jahri Evans (back), LB Junior Galette (hamstring), LB Curtis Lofton (knee), T Zach Strief (neck), LB Martez Wilson (elbow).

     
                   
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