Saturday, February 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones: Chiefs game is one Bucs aren't supposed to win but need to

If you're an NFL team, there are three types of games:

Games that you are supposed to win. Games that you're supposed to lose. And games that could go either way.

Today is a game the Bucs are supposed to lose.

The Chiefs are more than a touchdown favorite. They have won five in a row.

They are an NFL-best 17-2 over their past 19 regular-season games. They have won 11 in a row against teams with losing records.

And they are especially tough at home — 16-4 since the start of the 2014 season.

"It's going to be a tough one, but you all know me," Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "It'll be fun. I love games like this."

Let's see how he feels around 4 o'clock this afternoon.

Chances are, not good. And there's nothing embarrassing about that.

Kansas City roughs up a lot of teams. Outside of the Patriots, you could make a case the Chiefs are the AFC's best team. Sports Illustrated has them No. 3 in their power rankings, ahead of the Pats and behind two NFC teams — Dallas and Seattle.

Tampa Bay, by the way, is 21st, so a Bucs loss today would be neither surprising nor disappointing.

But sooner or later, if you're going to take that next step as a franchise, you have to win games you're not supposed to. You need to pull off an upset that makes everyone go, "Whoa!''

Like today.

The Bucs have a lot of these games coming up.

After today's game at Kansas City, the Bucs have games left against Seattle and Dallas (remember them from a second ago in the Sports Illustrated power rankings?). Tampa Bay also has to go to San Diego, has a home-and-home left against New Orleans and finishes at home against defending NFC champion Carolina.

The Bucs might be favored to win, what, one of those games? Maybe two?

It starts with being a decisive underdog in Kansas City.

"I wish it could be a night game and they would wear all red and it just be packed in there, but I'm looking forward to it," Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston said. "They've got a great fan base. It's going to be a great game."

Great game?

The Bucs will have to run the ball better than they did a week ago against the Bears, when they gained 80 yards on 31 attempts, including Doug Martin's subpar day (33 yards on 16 carries). Facing a Chiefs team that is 27th against the run but 13th against the pass, running the ball will be crucial.

Meantime, Winston will have to continue his recent trend. He has thrown one interception in the past three games and two in the past five.

And the defense will have to play more like it did in the 36-10 win over the Bears than it did in the 43-28 loss to Atlanta the week before.

Even then, the Bucs still might not win.

For Tampa Bay, a victory would be surprising … but necessary if the Bucs are ready to take that next step.

Comments
Jameis Winston is about to get a big pay raise. It will cost the Bucs more than money

Jameis Winston is about to get a big pay raise. It will cost the Bucs more than money

TAMPA – Jameis Winston is heading for a big payday with the Bucs. He's played well enough to make that an easy decision.But what impact will that have on the type of players they surround him with?The Bucs are expected to exercise the fifth-yea...
Published: 02/16/18
Bucs interview Brentson Buckner for defensive line job

Bucs interview Brentson Buckner for defensive line job

The Bucs continue to move quickly with the defensive line opening on Dirk Koetter's coaching staff, interviewing former Cardinals assistant Brentson Buckner.Buckner, 46, spent the last five years as Arizona's defensive line coach, leading the unit to...
Published: 02/16/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston investigation, Lightning trade possibilities, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston investigation, Lightning trade possibilities, more

It’s a Mailbag Friday as Rick Stroud answers your questions, including what will happen with the Jameis Winston investigation, who should the Bucs sign in free agency and would Warren Sapp make a good defensive line coach?Also, who will win more game...
Published: 02/16/18
Kevin Pamphile on Bucs’ O-line: ‘We’re not far from breaking through’

Kevin Pamphile on Bucs’ O-line: ‘We’re not far from breaking through’

Free agency is less than a month away, and the Bucs have several decisions to make about unrestricted free agents from their 2017 squad. One is Kevin Pamphile, who started all but one game at left guard last season but still split the job with backup...
Published: 02/16/18
Jameis Winston’s ‘Eat a W’ ritual lives on at Florida State

Jameis Winston’s ‘Eat a W’ ritual lives on at Florida State

Jameis Winston's pregame "Eat a 'W'" speech didn't go over too well the last time he gave it in front of the cameras and teammates.Before the Bucs-Saints game in New Orleans on Nov. 5, Winston formed a "W" with the fingers on his right hand and proce...
Published: 02/15/18
Browsing the Bucs’ needs and possible free-agent answers

Browsing the Bucs’ needs and possible free-agent answers

No sooner had the Bucs 5-11 season ended than coach Dirk Koetter identified the two areas his team needed to improve for 2018."I think we were 3-7 in one score games. You're going to have a hard time getting where you want to go when you win 30 perce...
Published: 02/15/18
Free agency preview: Brate, Humphries lead Bucs’ restricted free agents

Free agency preview: Brate, Humphries lead Bucs’ restricted free agents

NFL free agency is now just a month away, and as we begin the process of previewing the 2018 free agent class, we'll start with a less prominent part that is still relevant for the Bucs this year: restricted free agents.Unrestricted free agents have ...
Published: 02/14/18
Derrick Brooks to sign autographs at sub shop for charity

Derrick Brooks to sign autographs at sub shop for charity

A Tampa sub shop is offering fans a deal to help raise funds for former Bucs linebacker and Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks' charity efforts.From Feb. 21 to Feb. 25 next week, the Jersey Mike's shop at 14839 North Dale Mabry Highway (inters...
Published: 02/13/18
The Bucs pass rush was so bad, Dirk Koetter sacked his friend

The Bucs pass rush was so bad, Dirk Koetter sacked his friend

TAMPA – It was friendly fire. The decision by Bucs coach Dirk Koetter to terminate a guy he's been buddies with for nearly 40 years was not an easy one. But defensive line coach Jay Hayes was let go last Friday, an apparent fall guy for the 5-1...
Published: 02/12/18
Updated: 02/13/18
Bucs D-line coach name to watch: former Colts DC Ted Monachino

Bucs D-line coach name to watch: former Colts DC Ted Monachino

The surprising firing of defensive line coach Jay Hayes on Friday is one that was difficult for Bucs coach Dirk Koetter.Not only had the Bucs picked up  the one-year club option on Hayes' contract, he and Koetter go back nearly 40 years when the...
Published: 02/12/18