Sunday, January 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs opponent preview: Broncos, Week 4

When they play: Week 4 (Oct. 2) in Tampa

2015 record: 12-4, won AFC West, won Super Bowl 24-10 over Carolina.

Last time vs. Bucs: The Broncos beat the Bucs 31-23 in 2012 in Denver, with Peyton Manning throwing three TDs, two to DeMaryius Thomas. Bucs were down 28-10 in the fourth before making it close late.

2016 outlook: Manning is gone. Even Brock Osweiler is gone, leaving unheralded Trevor Siemian as the starting QB until rookie Paxton Lynch is ready to take over. The defense took some key losses, but will still be a strength for Denver, especially with (even) less at QB than they had in 2015.

Player to watch: OLB Von Miller is a game-changer — double-digit sacks in all four of his healthy NFL seasons and four forced fumbles last season. He had five sacks in three playoff games last year — can he and the defense even get Denver back to the postseason this time around?

Rookie to watch: Much like the Rams' Jared Goff the week before, the Bucs might not see first-round QB Paxton Lynch as he's eased into the lineup. Absent that, keep an eye on fourth-round RB Devontae Booker, who was good enough to push out Ronnie Hillman as the top backup to C.J. Anderson. He played well in two seasons at Utah — could be another late-round RB steal for Denver.

Key matchup: Bucs offensive tackles against Denver pass rush. Broncos had seven sacks in the Super Bowl against Carolina and Cam Newton — even with Malik Jackson and others gone, containing that front seven is a priority against the Broncos. A good early test for a still-young Bucs offensive line.

Familiar face: Cornerback Aqib Talib, traded away by the Bucs in 2012, has seven interceptions — four returned for touchdowns — in his two seasons in Denver. Having said that, he was on the trading block before the season, having only lasted two seasons with the Patriots despite his success there. OLB Dekoda Watson is another former Bucs player, and USF's Kayvon Webster is a leader on special teams.

Cool stat: Denver led the NFL with 52 sacks in the regular season, and then trumped that with 14 in three playoff games, including a record-tying seven in the Super Bowl. The 14 sacks in a single postseason was the most for any NFL team since the 2005 Steelers.

Comments
Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

ST. PETERSBURG — USF had expected to have four former players in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, but QB Quinton Flowers had to miss the showcase game after learning that his grandmother had died late last week."I most definitely ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG — With less than a week to install a playbook, offenses can have it tough in college showcase games.And for 58 minutes on Saturday in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, the teams combined for just one offensive touchdown.But...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Sunday’s NFL conference championship game previews

AFC: Jaguars at Patriots, 3, CBSLine/OU: Patriots by 7½; 46The big drama leading into this game is whether, or how much, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be slowed by his injured right hand, which kept him out of practice Thursday (see 6C for more...
Updated: 10 hours ago

NFL playoffs schedule

AFCCONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPJaguars at Patriots, 3 p.m. today TV: CBS Line/OU: Patriots by 7½; 46NFCCONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPVikings at Eagles, 6:40 tonight TV: Fox Line/OU: Vikings by 3; 38½Super Bowl LIIJaguars or Patriots vs. Vikings or Eagles, 6:30 p...
Updated: 10 hours ago
NFL Playoffs: Reconsidering the franchise quarterback imperative

NFL Playoffs: Reconsidering the franchise quarterback imperative

TAMPA — So much for needing a franchise quarterback to reach the Super Bowl.Sure, the Patriots Tom Brady is back in his seventh straight conference championship game and his 12th overall. But check out the other schlubs under center SundayIt's ...
Published: 01/19/18
Happy 15th anniversary to the greatest play in Bucs history: Ronde Barber shuts down the Vet

Happy 15th anniversary to the greatest play in Bucs history: Ronde Barber shuts down the Vet

Fifteen years ago today, cornerback Ronde Barber made what's considered the greatest play in Bucs  history, returning an interception of Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb 92-yards for a game-clinching touchdown in a 27-10 win in the NFC Championship...
Published: 01/19/18
Jameis Winston shares MLK’s message: Don’t lose infinite hope

Jameis Winston shares MLK’s message: Don’t lose infinite hope

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, only weeks removed from a disappointing 2017 season, had a relevant but larger message for teenagers on Friday morning: Don't let small setbacks keep you from your dreams."If you have a phone, if you have a pen and pa...
Published: 01/19/18
Greatest moment in Tampa Bay sports history happened 15 years ago today

Greatest moment in Tampa Bay sports history happened 15 years ago today

Happy Friday, Tampa Bay.Fifteen years ago today, Ronde Barber intercepted Donovan McNabb to shut down Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium and send the Bucs to the Super Bowl. Times columnist Tom Jones and many others consider this the greatest moment in ...
Published: 01/19/18
Rick and Tom podcast: Super Bowl berths on the line

Rick and Tom podcast: Super Bowl berths on the line

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones look back at last week’s playoff games to break down the upcoming conference championship games.Rick and Tom agree that New England should roll over Jacksonville but disagree on Minnesota-Philadelphi...
Published: 01/19/18
Rick and Tom podcast: What does it mean when Bucs GM cringes at expectations?

Rick and Tom podcast: What does it mean when Bucs GM cringes at expectations?

Bucs general manager Jason Licht told Rick Stroud that he cringed at some of the preseason expectations last season, and the outrage from some fans has been more than he expected.In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down what it a...
Published: 01/18/18