Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL picks for Week 6

Jaguars (0-5) at Broncos (5-0)

4 p.m. Ch. 10 Broncos by 26½, 53½

Yes, you can watch Peyton Manning and friends try to cover a huge spread. You might have read Denver averages 46 points while Jacksonville has totaled 51. The Jags got a boost from WR Justin Blackmon, who had a long TD and 136 yards fresh off a four-game ban. Denver has four players — WR Demaryius Thomas, WR Eric Decker WR Wes Welker and TE Julius Thomas (above) — with more receiving yards than Bucs leader Vincent Jackson (292). So yes, it will cover.

The pick: Broncos 48, Jaguars 13

Titans (3-2) at Seahawks (4-1)

4 p.m. Seahawks by 13, 40½

Tennessee is averaging exactly as many yards (321.2) as it is allowing. Seattle seeks to rebound from its first loss. New name I like to carefully pronounce: Tennessee DT Ropati Pitoitua, who has as many sacks (five) in five games as he did in his first four seasons. Speaking of names, I'm suggesting "ATV" as a nickname for Titans CB Alterraun Verner (above), who has four picks and an NFL-best 11 passes defensed. Warning to Titans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: Seattle is tied for first with 15 takeaways.

The pick: Seahawks 34, Titans 21

Saints (5-0) at Patriots (4-1)

4:25 p.m. Ch. 13 Patriots by 1½, 50½

A battle of elite QBs. The Saints and Drew Brees won the last meeting, in 2009, but Tom Brady (above) and the Patriots are 3-1 in the series. Brady has Bucs castoff LeGarrette Blount leading the club in rushing and an undrafted rookie, Kenbrell Thompkins, with a team-high three TD catches. Saints TE Jimmy Graham continues a torrid pace at 593 yards and six TDs. Despite his years in the NFC South, Pats and former Bucs CB Aqib Talib seeks his first interception vs. the Saints.

The pick: Saints 28, Patriots 21

Cardinals (3-2) at 49ers (3-2)

4:25 p.m. 49ers by 10½, 41

49ers WR Anquan Boldin (above) had five 1,000-yard seasons among seven in Arizona before a trade to Baltimore in 2010. He's on pace to get back over 1,000 for the first time since. San Francisco has won seven of eight in the series, but QB Colin Kaepernick could use a third target. Boldin and TE Vernon Davis account for 617 yards with no one else even at 100. Turnovers are always key, but both teams are even in turnover margin. Watch Cards WR Michael Floyd, who had 166 yards and a touchdown in the last meeting.

The pick: 49ers 28, Cardinals 17

Redskins (1-3) at Cowboys (2-3)

8:30 p.m. Ch. 8 Cowboys by 5, 53½

The Cowboys are tied for the NFC East lead, even after a 51-48 loss to the Broncos. Tony Romo (above) was brilliant, throwing for 506 yards and five touchdowns before a costly late interception. Watch out for rookie Terrence Williams, who had 151 yards receiving, including an 82-yard TD. The Redskins' Alfred Morris needs the ball more. He's averaging 5.3 yards per carry, better than any running back ahead of him in yards. He averaged 156 against Dallas in 2012 with four touchdowns.

The pick: Redskins 24, Cowboys 21

Colts (4-1) at Chargers (2-3)

8:40 p.m. Monday ESPN. Colts by 1½, 50

Andrew Luck (above) as the next John Elway? After last week, Luck has nine winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime, the most of any quarterback in his first 21 games. San Diego's Philip Rivers has 13 touchdown passes as well as 400-plus yards in three of his past four games. Chargers RB Danny Woodhead has more catches (31) than carries (28) with three touchdown catches. Colts RB Trent Richardson went for 122 and a touchdown against the Chargers in 2012 while with Cleveland.

The pick: Chargers 35, Colts 24

Packers (2-2) at Ravens (3-2)

1 p.m. Packers by 3, 48½

Take away the records, and it's a huge game. Baltimore has dominated at home, 35-7 under coach John Harbaugh and winners of 13 straight against NFC teams. Ravens LB Terrell Suggs, who had three sacks last week against Miami, can set the franchise record by getting one in his sixth straight game. Green Bay needs a consistent running game. Rookie Eddie Lacy (above) had 99 yards last week, a promising development. Baltimore's Torrey Smith leads the AFC with 111 receiving yards per game.

The pick: Packers 28, Ravens 24

Bengals (3-2) at Bills (2-3)

1 p.m. Bengals by 6½, 41½

The Bengals defense gets kudos for stopping Tom Brady's streak of games with a touchdown pass at 52 in last week's 13-6 win over the Patriots. How many touchdown runs do you think Cincy's BenJarvus Green-Ellis (above) has since the start of 2010? Answer's 33, tied for fourth in the NFL. QB Thad Lewis, signed off the practice squad, makes his second career start, so the Bills need help from RB C.J. Spiller and RB Fred Jackson. Buffalo's Mario Williams has 7½ sacks, 6½ off of his career high set in 2007.

The pick: Bengals 24, Bills 10

Lions (3-2) at Browns (3-2)

1 p.m. Lions by 2½, 44

In the teams' last meeting, in 2009, then-rookie Matt Stafford (above) passed for five touchdowns, including the winner as time expired in a 38-37 Lions win. Detroit has, perhaps, the league's best 1-2 dual-threat running backs in Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, who have combined for more than 400 yards rushing and another 400 receiving on 37 catches. The Browns have won three straight, but QB Brandon Weeden has two touchdowns among 110 passes. And Willis McGahee is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry.

The pick: Lions 31, Browns 21

Rams (2-3) at Texans (2-3)

1 p.m. Texans by 7½, 42½

Eli Manning is worse, but Matt Schaub (above) is despised in Houston. After six touchdowns in a 2-0 start, he has two and six interceptions in an 0-3 slide, including at the Ravens and 49ers by a combined 64-12. Houston is No. 1 in total defense (260 yards per game). But thanks to Schaub's four pick-sixes, it is 25th in scoring. Rams QB Sam Bradford needs help from the run game, and rookie Zac Stacy had 78 yards last week. He's still waiting for first-rounder Tavon Austin to improve on his 6.8 yards per catch.

The pick: Texans 21, Rams 14

Raiders (2-3) at Chiefs (5-0)

1 p.m. Chiefs by 8, 41

Can Oakland, winners of six of the past eight in the series, hand the Chiefs their first loss … on their homefield? The Raiders won four games last season, but two were against Kansas City, including 15-0 in December. Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor, above, is playing well — 502 passing yards, 72 percent completion rate and three touchdowns without an interception — over the past two games. The Chiefs are undefeated because they have committed five turnovers in five games. They're an NFL-best plus-10 in turnover margin.

The pick: Chiefs 28, Raiders 13

Steelers (0-4) at Jets (3-2)

1 p.m. Pick 'em, 41

These are the AFC's worst in turnover margin. Pittsburgh seeks its first takeaway to offset 11 turnovers; the Jets are minus-9 with an AFC-worst 12 turnovers committed. Expect the Steelers to lean more on rookie RB Le'Veon Bell (above), who had two touchdowns in his debut after missing three games to injuries. Steelers WR Antonio Brown (412 yards) shouldn't be a new name. He had 1,108 yards in 2011 and five touchdowns in 2012. Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson, a 315-pounder, has four sacks.

The pick: Jets 21, Steelers 14

Panthers (1-3) at Vikings (1-3)

1 p.m. Vikings by 2, 44

Ex-Buc Josh Freeman will be the inactive No. 3 QB for the Vikings and behind Christian Ponder. But how will starter Matt Cassel play looking over his shoulder? The 2-year-old son of RB Adrian Peterson (above) died Friday. Peterson is expected to play. But in any case, emotions will be high on the Vikings sideline. Carolina's only win is against the winless Giants, and it has scored 12 points in its other three games. Ted Ginn is averaging 20.1 yards per catch, third in the NFL among players with 10-plus receptions.

The pick: Vikings 28, Panthers 24

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

Showdowns set: Jags-Patriots in AFC, Vikings-Eagles in NFC

NEW YORK — Watch out, New England. Here comes Sacksonville. Get ready, Philly. The Vikings are sailing into town. Tom Brady and the big game-tested Patriots square off against the sack-happy Jaguars (12-6) next Sunday in the AFC Championship Game in ...
Published: 01/14/18