Friday, July 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Week 14 preview capsules

Broncos at Titans, 1

Line/OU: Titans by 2; 43½

No one faces a more victory-resistant backstretch than Denver: four opponents with a combined 35-14 body of work, and dates against three first-place teams. The .500 Titans are as easy as things are going to get. To win, the Broncos need QB Trevor Siemian to have recovered enough from an injured left foot to move in the pocket and step into his throws. The Titans will ride the improved health of DeMarco Murray, a 1,000-yard rusher who used the bye week to rest a toe injury.

Cardinals at Dolphins, 1

Line/OU: Cardinals by 2; 43½

The Dolphins are one game behind Denver for the lowest seed in the AFC wild-card race, and not even last week's loss at Baltimore could undo the benefits of a six-game win streak. Miami has to figure out a path through an Arizona defense that is in the league's top five in fewest overall yards, rushing yards, passing yards and first downs allowed. The Cardinals face a tough path back to the playoffs, but their first East Coast win of the season could clear some things up.

Redskins at Eagles, 1

Line/OU: Redskins 2; 47

The Redskins have lost three consecutive road games, and now would be a good time to end that trend. As long as their No. 2-rated offense keeps dropping 418.6 yards a game, the Redskins are as good as any other six-win team out there. The Eagles have scored 15, 13 and 14 points in their past three games, losing every one. Momentum is a terrible force when going the wrong way.

Texans at Colts, 1

Line/OU: Colts by 6½; 46½

This is what constitutes a showdown in the AFC South. The Texans have won eight straight against their division brethren over the past two seasons. In games outside the division in that time, they've lost 12 of past 19. Now, Houston visits the Colts, whose quarterback, Andrew Luck, has won nine straight division games at home, including three against Houston. What gives? Houston's grip on first, if just one win in Indiana during the Texans' 14-year franchise history is any indication.

Steelers at Bills, 1

Line/OU: Steelers by 3; 45½

No need to plan on throwing endless spirals into a Great Lakes wind (and the expected snow). The quarterbacks here can repeatedly give the ball to their backfield mates, then put their fanny-pack hand warmers to good use. Bills RB LeSean McCoy is the V-8 engine behind the most productive running game (161.9 yards a game) in the NFL. The Steelers' Le'Veon Bell has 80 carries for 384 yards in the past three games, all wins.

Chargers at Panthers, 1

Line/OU: Pick 'em; 49

Panthers QB Cam Newton called it "demoralizing" to go from a 17-2 Super Bowl season to this mess. In its past three games, Carolina has completed fewer than 50 percent of its throws. Newton's 80.6 passer rating is a career low through 12 games. The Chargers have turned their attention to playing for pride, while grappling with unsettled stadium and relocation issues. Whatever their shortcomings, the Chargers do complete more passes than not.

Bengals at Browns, 1

Line/OU: Bengals by 5½; 40

The Browns are grasping at the Robert Griffin III straw, knowing he can boast of being undefeated as their starting QB since an opening day loss. He hasn't played since then, either, but the winless Browns are running out of ideas. The Bengals took down the Eagles last week for their first win since beating the Browns on Oct. 23. After this weekend, Cincinnati will finish the year with three opponents tied for a division lead. Beating Cleveland should be a given. Right?

Bears at Lions, 1

Line/OU: Lions by 7; 43½

The Lions have flown under the radar to win seven of their past eight and take the NFC North lead. The best way for them to be noticed? Lose to the Bears for the second time this season. QB Matthew Stafford has led seven fourth-quarter comebacks, tying an NFL single-season record. The Bears don't have much, but their defense is responsible for two of Stafford's five INTs this season. It also held the 49ers to 6 net passing yards in a rare win last week.

Vikings at Jaguars, 1

Line/OU: Vikings by 3; 39½

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson said it would be pointless for him to return from his September knee surgery if his team were out of the playoff race. But how can Minnesota remain in a race without Peterson? Minus a workhorse in the offense, the Vikings have lost six of their past seven. How bad are things for Jacksonville? Its reigning AFC rushing champion, Chris Ivory, is averaging 3.8 yards a carry. As a lowlight, that pales in comparison to Blake Bortles' 15 INTs.

Jets at 49ers, 4

Line/OU: 49ers by 3; 43½

These two teams will turn to recently benched quarterbacks. The Jets used the occasion of their official playoff elimination to bench Ryan Fitzpatrick. If rookie Bryce Petty wants the job next year, his interview has begun. The 49ers benched Colin Kaepernick last week after three-plus quarters of 1-for-5 passing for 4 yards. They have since decided that Blaine Gabbert wasn't any better, so it's back to Kaepernick at the helm of a team with a franchise-record 11 consecutive losses.

Seahawks at Packers, 4:25

Line/OU: Seahawks by 3; 44½

Just when a four-game losing skid had the Packers looking at offseason cruises, they went out and won two straight to get back in the playoff race. In the past two weeks, Green Bay held the Eagles and Texans to 13 points each. Nice work, given the damage to LB Clay Matthews' shoulder. The Seahawks can clinch the NFC West any week now. They have the defense that travels well and survives the cold, and that is allowing an NFL-best 16.2 points a game.

Falcons at Rams, 4:25

Line/OU: Falcons by 6; 45

Falcons WR Julio Jones picked up a case of turf toe last week, which creates a dilemma for the NFC South co-leaders. They can opt for short-term thinking and play Jones, hoping to put a dent on the league's ninth-ranked pass defense but risking deeper injury. Or they can risk what should be a win and save him to fight another day. The Rams are content to let rookie QB Jared Goff do his growing up in the lost portion of the season.

Cowboys at Giants, 8:30

Line/OU: Cowboys 3½; 47

The Giants aren't playing for a division title, not when they're behind Dallas by three games with four left. This NFC East tilt is about holding their lead in the race for a wild-card spot. The Cowboys' marvel of a season began with a loss to the Giants at home. Dallas has not lost since. The Steelers ended a six-game Giants winning streak last week, but New York still has all the look of that wild-card team no one wants to make eye contact with in the postseason.

Ravens at Patriots, 8:30 Monday

Line/OU: Patriots by 6½; 44½

Baltimore has won four of its past five and entered Week 14 tied with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North. The Ravens have the NFL's top-ranked defense. Joe Flacco has a QB rating of 115 or more in two of his past three games against New England, which can clinch an AFC East title for the eighth consecutive season with a win and a Miami loss or tie. It would be the longest streak of division titles in NFL history. New England also gets a first-round bye with a win and losses by Miami and Pittsburgh. Ex-Buc LeGarrette Blount leads the NFL with 13 rushing TDs.

Times wires

Comments
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