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Bucs-Panthers and other Week 9 games

Chiefs (8-0) at Bills (3-5)

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1 p.m. Chiefs by 31/2, 40

Buffalo is a strange team. The Bills have given up at least 20 points in every game yet have beaten three teams with at least three wins. It's easy to write them off with fill-in QB Thad Lewis doubtful with injured ribs. But this is the NFL's No. 4 rushing offense behind Fred Jackson, above, and C.J. Spiller. Largo High's Dexter McCluster tied a career high with seven catches last week for K.C. Name you should know by now: Chiefs third-year LB Justin Houston, who has 11 sacks, second-best in NFL.

The pick: Chiefs 31, Bills 21

Falcons (2-5) at Panthers (4-3)

1 p.m. Panthers by 71/2, 45

Atlanta has won five of the past six matchups. But it has allowed at least 23 points in every game and ranks last in the league at 62.4 rushing yards per game. Atlanta averages 3.4 yards per carry, and defenses can stack more against the run with injured WR Julio Jones out. Carolina, meanwhile, has won three straight to enter the wild card mix. LB Luke Kuechly, above, has 220 tackles in his first 23 games, most in the NFL since the start of 2012. DE Greg Hardy has 14 sacks in his past 16 games.

The pick: Panthers 34, Falcons 31

Vikings (1-6) at Cowboys (4-4)

1 p.m. Cowboys by 10, 48

Christian Ponder, above, is back at QB for Minnesota, whose point differential (minus-62) is only one better than the Bucs'. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, who went for 100 yards in nine of his final 10 games last season, has done so just once in his past five. One bright spot for Minnesota has been rookie Cordarelle Patterson with two kickoff-return touchdowns. (The rest of the NFL has one.) Speaking of breakout rookies, Cowboys WR Terrance Williams has touchdowns in four straight.

The pick: Cowboys 31, Vikings 14

Saints (6-1) at Jets (4-4)

1 p.m. Saints by 61/2, 451/2

Each needed last-minute field goals to edge the Bucs in September. Saints QB Drew Brees, above, is on pace to match last year's prolific numbers (5,177 yards, 43 touchdowns) while throwing eight fewer interceptions. TE Jimmy Graham is on pace for 1,440 yards, which would break Rob Gronkowski's 2011 mark for a tight end of 1,327. It's a big game for Jets RB Chris Ivory, who played his first three seasons in New Orleans and was dealt to New York for a fourth-round pick this spring.

The pick: Saints 24, Jets 17

Titans (3-4) at Rams (3-5)

1 p.m. Titans by 3, 39½

Rams coach Jeff Fisher has his first game against the team he led to six playoff berths. St. Louis still seeks its first rushing touchdown of 2013, though rookie Zac Stacy, above, has played well, rushing for 344 yards in October, third in the NFL. Third-year Titans QB Jake Locker isn't flashy, but he has just one interception among 152 attempts, and Tennessee has a plus-6 turnover margin. The last meeting saw the Titans romp to a 47-7 win over the Rams, but they has to stop RB Chris Johnson this time.

The pick: Rams 17, Titans 13

Chargers (4-3) at Redskins (2-5)

1 p.m. Ch. 10, Pick 'em, 51

Philip Rivers deserves the spotlight for San Diego. But RB Ryan Mathews, above, has topped 100 yards in the past two games, and the Chargers are 6-1 when he does. Teammate Danny Woodhead's 40 catches trail only the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles among running backs. RB Roy Helu and TE Jordan Reed are emerging for Washington. Name you should know: Redskins LB Perry Riley, fourth-year pro from LSU who leads them with 61 tackles.

The pick: Chargers 31, Redskins 28

Eagles (3-5) at Raiders (3-4)

4 p.m. Raiders by 21/2, 45

Philadelphia's Nick Foles has been quietly solid with six touchdowns and no picks in 90 passes. But Oakland's Terrelle Pryor, above, is, perhaps, the league's best surprise with a 3-0 home record and coming off a 93-yard touchdown run, the longest by a QB in NFL history. Ex-USF CB Mike Jenkins had a pick last week, his first with Oakland after totaling two from 2010-12. Ex-Bucs LB Najee Goode returned a fumble for a score for the Eagles last week.

The pick: Eagles 24, Raiders 14

Ravens (3-4) at Browns (3-5)

4:25 p.m. Ravens by 2, 41

Baltimore has won 11 straight in the series, and Ray Rice has 958 yards against the Browns, his most against any team. Cleveland's sticking with QB Jason Campbell, above, after getting two touchdown passes last week. Only three running backs have 75-plus carries and fewer than 3.0 yards per carry — they all meet here as Rice and the Ravens' Bernard Pierce face the Browns' Willis McGahee, who faces the team he played for from 2007-10.

The pick: Browns 31, Ravens 24

Steelers (2-5) at Patriots (6-2)

4:25 p.m. Ch. 10. Patriots by 6½, 43½

The past three games against Pittsburgh for Tom Brady, above: nine touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Steelers need a game like their last trip to Foxborough, when they forced five turnovers in a 33-10 win in 2008. Pittsburgh, however, is minus-9 on turnovers this season while New England is plus-7. Steelers rookie RB Le'Veon Bell doesn't have a 100-yard game yet, but he does have three touchdowns.

The pick: Patriots 38, Steelers 17

Colts (5-2) at Texans (2-5)

8:30 p.m. Ch. 8. Colts by 2, 44

After at least eight touchdowns from 2007-10, Texans WR Andre Johnson has none in 2013 and six total from 2011-12. Having Case Keenum as his QB doesn't help, though he threw for 271 in his first start last week. Colts LB Robert Mathis, above, leads the NFL with 111/2 sacks. He has 151/2 against the Texans, most of any opponent. After 201/2 sacks last season, Houston's J.J. Watt isn't even in the NFL's top 20, with just 41/2.

The pick: Colts 35, Texans 21

Bears (4-3) at Packers (5-2)

8:40 p.m. Monday. ESPN. Packers by 101/2, 50

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, above, is 5-0 at home against the Bears and has won six in a row overall with 13 touchdowns. Second-year Bears WR Alshon Jeffery has three 100-yard games in his past four, challenging Brandon Marshall for the team lead in everything but touchdowns where he has two. With four straight games of more than 20 carries and 80 yards, we call for a spotlight on Packers rookie Eddie Lacy.

The pick: Packers 35, Bears 27

Projected starters

BUCS

offense

WR: Vincent Jackson 83

LT: Donald Penn 70

LG: Jamon Meredith 79

C: Jeremy Zuttah 62

RG: Davin Joseph 75

RT: Demar Dotson 69

TE: Tim Wright 81

WR: Tiquan Underwood 11

QB: Mike Glennon 8

RB: Mike James 25

FB: Erik Lorig 41

defense

DE: Daniel Te'o Nesheim 50

DT: Gerald McCoy 93

DT: Akeem Spence 97

DE: Adrian Clayborn 94

SLB: Dekoda Watson 56

MLB: Mason Foster 59

WLB: Lavonte David 54

CB: Darrelle Revis 24

CB: Leonard Johnson 29

SS: Mark Barron 23

FS: Keith Tandy 37

Special teams

P/KO: Michael Koenen 9

PK: Rian Lindell 4

LS: Andrew Economos 48

KR/PR: Eric Page 17

Seahawks

offense

WR: Doug Baldwin 89

LT: Paul McQuistan 67

LG: James Carpenter 77

C: Max Unger 60

RG: J.R. Sweezy 64

RT: Michael Bowie 73

TE: Zach Miller 86

WR: Golden Tate 81

QB: Russell Wilson 3

RB: Marshawn Lynch 24

TE: Luke Willson 82

defense

DE: Red Bryant 79

DT: Tony McDaniel 99

DT: Brandon Mebane 92

DE: Chris Clemons 91

OLB: Bruce Irvin 51

MLB: Bobby Wagner 54

OLB: K.J. Wright 50

CB: Richard Sherman 25

CB: Brandon Browner 39

SS: Kam Chancellor 31

FS: Earl Thomas 29

Special teams

P: Jon Ryan 9

PK/KO: Steven Hauschka 4

LS: Clint Gresham 49

PR: Golden Tate 81

KR: Jermaine Kearse 15

Injury report

BUCS Out: RB Jeff Demps (groin), S Dashon Goldson (knee), RB Doug Martin (shoulder), G Carl Nicks (foot). Questionable: S Mark Barron (hip), DT Derek Landri (back), WR Chris Owusu (foot), LB Dekoda Watson (shoulder). Probable: LB Mason Foster (hamstring), G Davin Joseph (knee), DT Akeem Spence (wrist), S Keith Tandy (ankle).

seahawks Out: RB Derrick Coleman (hamstring), T Breno Giacomini (knee), S Jeron Johnson (hamstring). Probable: DE Michael Bennett (illness), RB Marshawn Lynch (knee), DT Brandon Mebane (not injury related), G J.R. Sweezy (elbow), S Earl Thomas (illness).

4 p.m. CenturyLink Field, Seattle | TV/radio: Ch. 13; 620-AM, 103.5-FM, 95.3-FM | Line, O/U: Seahawks by 15½, 40½

The Bucs, near the bottom of most NFL power rankings, travel 3,000 miles to face the Seahawks, near the top, in search of that elusive first win. They'll do so without RB Doug Martin, WR Mike Williams and, potentially, S Dashon Goldson. So their success hinges on fill-ins including rookie RB Mike James, WR Tiquan Underwood and S Keith Tandy.

What the Seahawks do best

Win at home with QB Russell Wilson, who is 11-0 in Seattle thanks, in large part, to a defense that has held five of eight opponents to 17 points or fewer in 2013.

How you beat the Seahawks

St. Louis had a good model last week: Take advantage of injuries on the offensive line to pressure QB Russell Wilson and limit RB Marshawn Lynch. The Rams settled for three field goals and lost 14-9, stopped on the goal line late. So red zone efficiency is a must.

Seahawks' top offensive player

Since November 2011, Marshawn Lynch (left) nicknamed "Beast Mode," leads the NFL in rushing yards (3,132) and touchdowns (26). The Bucs held him to 53 yards on 14 carries in a 2010 victory in Tampa.

Seahawks' top defensive player

Third-year CB Richard Sherman is as talented as he is talkative. He leads the NFL with 16 interceptions since 2011, including seven over his past seven home games. Bucs rookie QB Mike Glennon must be careful on his side of the field.

The Bucs must avoid ...

Falling behind early and letting Seattle's fans, "The 12th Man," be a factor. Tampa Bay piped in loud crowd noise at practice last week. But a strong start can quiet the crowd.

The pick

Seahawks 31, Bucs 13

Unit rankings

OFFENSEDEFENSE
RunPassTotalRunPassTotal
Bucs93.6 (22nd)204.1 (26th)297.7 (31st)94.6 (7th)243.9 (19th)338.4 (14th)
Seahawks140.6 (4th)198.8 (28th)339.4 (15th)105.1 (15th)184.1 (3rd)289.3 (2nd)

Bucs-Panthers and other Week 9 games 11/02/13 [Last modified: Saturday, November 2, 2013 7:06pm]

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