Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Broncos-Patriots preview

AFC title game: Patriots at Broncos

3, Mile High Stadium, Denver | Ch. 13; 98.7-FM, 1010-AM | Broncos by 51/2, 57

Two of the NFL's best-known stars square off for the 15th time. Tom Brady is 10-4 against Peyton Manning, but Manning has homefield in his favor. Brady has the NFL quarterback records for postseason games (25) and wins (18).

Weather: 50s, winds of about 13 mph, no chance of rain

What the Patriots do best

Win in the postseason under Bill Belichick. The only coach with more playoff wins is Don Shula, and Belichick can match his 20 today. The Patriots are 7-3 in AFC title games, and Brady's 6,147 postseason passing yards are the most in NFL history. Manning is second with 5,909.

What the Broncos do best

Reset records behind Manning's prolific offense. Five Broncos — Knowshon Moreno, DeMaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker — scored at least 10 touchdowns. Half the teams in the league didn't have one. Julian Edelman led New England with six.

How you beat the Patriots

Put them on the road. Their four road wins came against the Bills, Falcons, Texans and Ravens, who averaged just five wins. And make Brady throw a lot. He had at least 38 attempts in all four losses but has had it easy lately — 26 or fewer and fewer than 200 yards in his past three wins.

How you beat the Broncos

Use the Chargers as a model. They held Denver to its two fewest point totals of 2013: 20 in a win and 24 in last week's loss. Let's say 30 points is a goal. Only three teams did that, but two won. Denver is 13-1 when allowing 28 points or fewer.

Game's top offensive player

You have to go with Manning: 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns, statistically the most productive season in NFL history. Over his past three games, he has 10 touchdowns and one interception. But the Patriots have a league-high four picks in the playoffs.

Game's top defensive player

Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib is the only defensive All-Pro in this game. His four interceptions are as many as in his three previous seasons combined. However, Talib can't stop Manning from finding a mismatch on his third or fourth read.

The Broncos must avoid ...

Say, giving up a 24-point second-half lead, like they did in Week 12 at New England. Chances are Denver won't get up that big, but how well it plays with a lead — running the ball, limiting turnovers — will go a long way toward making the Super Bowl.

Greg Auman's pick

Broncos 38, Patriots 35

Comments
DeSean Jackson says Jameis Winston needs to stop trying to “impress the world,” and play his game

DeSean Jackson says Jameis Winston needs to stop trying to “impress the world,” and play his game

Receiver DeSean Jackson stopped short of saying he regretted his decision to sign a three-year, $33.5-million contract as a free agent with the Bucs last March. But he certainly is disappointed in his lack of chemistry with quarterback Jameis Winston...
Published: 01/17/18
Bucs LB Kwon Alexander headed to Pro Bowl

Bucs LB Kwon Alexander headed to Pro Bowl

Kwon Alexander is headed to the Pro Bowl.The third-year Bucs linebacker, who led the NFL in solo tackles a year ago, was announced Tuesday as an injury replacement for Seattle's Bobby Wagner.Alexander, 23, won't have to go far, as the game is back in...
Published: 01/16/18

Shrine Game journal: Homecoming for Utah OL Salesi Uhatafe; Quinton Flowers works on snaps

ST. PETERSBURG — Salesi Uhatafe is back in his hometown, and though he moved to Texas when he was still a baby, it’s very much a homecoming as the former Utah offensive lineman plays in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field."I’ll probab...
Published: 01/15/18
Iowa State’s two-way star Joel Lanning practicing at linebacker for East-West Shrine Game

Iowa State’s two-way star Joel Lanning practicing at linebacker for East-West Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG — Joel Lanning has the unique distinction of being listed as an "LB/QB" on the West roster for Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field.And while the former Iowa State star spent the entire practice at middle linebacker Mond...
Published: 01/15/18
Bucs GM Jason Licht ‘cringed’ at expectations, optimistic about future

Bucs GM Jason Licht ‘cringed’ at expectations, optimistic about future

TAMPA — It was a brutal year. That’s how general manager Jason Licht views the Bucs’ 2017 season.Start with Hard Knocks and the surrounding expectations, some he embraced and others he "cringed at." They all went unfulfilled, mostly due to injuries, ...
Published: 01/15/18

NFL playoffs schedule

AFCCONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP• Jaguars at Patriots, 3 p.m. Sunday, CBSNFCCONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP•Vikings at Eagles, 6:40 p.m. Sunday, FoxSuper Bowl LIIJaguars or Patriots vs. Vikings or Eagles, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis TV: NBC...
Published: 01/15/18
Jason Licht addresses what went wrong for the Bucs in 2017 and how they plan to fix it

Jason Licht addresses what went wrong for the Bucs in 2017 and how they plan to fix it

It was a "brutal year." That's how general manager Jason Licht views the Bucs 2017 season.Expectations, many of them he said he "cringed at," nonetheless went unfulfilled due to injuries, particularly the right shoulder sprain suffered by quarterback...
Published: 01/15/18
Bucs search for a backup quarterback becomes paramount amid NFL’s probe into Winston

Bucs search for a backup quarterback becomes paramount amid NFL’s probe into Winston

With the NFL investigating allegations against Jameis Winston that potentially could result in a suspension, the Bucs will need to address the backup quarterback position again this off-season."That's another position I always want to do whatever we ...
Published: 01/15/18
Rick and Tom podcast: Who says you need a franchise QB in the playoffs?

Rick and Tom podcast: Who says you need a franchise QB in the playoffs?

The NFL’s final four teams are set, and the starting quarterbacks are Tom Brady, Blake Bortles, Case Keenum and Nick Foles. In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down this past weekend’s games, including the Vikings’ miraculous fin...
Published: 01/15/18
Vikings stun Saints with 61-yard touchdown on last play

Vikings stun Saints with 61-yard touchdown on last play

MINNEAPOLIS — This doesn’t happen, not in the NFL, not in the playoffs, not when what is on the line are such things as legacies and franchise curses and — oh, my. All of it.The Vikings were dead, just as they have always been in the playoffs. Their ...
Published: 01/14/18