Thursday, February 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Week 3 game capsules

Week 3

Falcons at Lions, 1

Line/OU: Falcons by 3; 50½

Even though the Falcons are the defending NFC champs, this was not a marquee matchup when the schedules came out. But considering how well Atlanta played last week against Green Bay, and how good Detroit has looked in both of its games, this might be the most evenly matched game this week. The QBs, Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Detroit's Matthew Stafford, will get the bulk of the publicity, but it likely will come down to which defense can limit the opposing offense, which makes the loss of Falcons LB Vic Beasley, last season's top pass-rusher, perhaps the most important injury note of the week. Detroit found a running game Monday against the Giants, as well as a pass rush.

Ravens vs. Jaguars, 9:30 a.m.

Line/OU: Ravens by 3; 39

The NFL still gets excited about its London games, and this one at Wembley is the first trip across the pond for the Ravens. That makes 26 of the 32 franchises to have played regular-season games in England. Baltimore brings a defense Chelsea or Tottenham would be proud of, having allowed all of 10 points. Jacksonville brings a schizophrenic bunch that was dominant in its opener at Houston, then submissive vs. the Titans.

Saints at Panthers, 1

Line/OU: Panthers by 5½; 46½

Same old for the Saints, who have gone 7-9 the past three seasons because their defense is weak. Sure, they can move the ball and score behind QB Drew Brees. They just can't do it enough to make up for other shortcomings. Carolina has not played a game without star TE Greg Olsen since acquiring him in 2011. But he's sidelined with a broken foot. Look for rookie RB Christian McCaffrey to get more targets now.

Broncos at Bills, 1

Line/OU: Broncos by 3; 39

It's time for the Broncos to leave the Mile High City and show what they've got on the road. In what could be a bounce-back season, Denver swept its first two home games. The challenge is to keep things going since the AFC West is the best in the league, with Kansas City and Oakland also 2-0. The Bills haven't made the playoffs this century. After routing the Jets, they played staunch defense but forgot to bring their offense to Carolina.

Steelers at Bears, 1

Line/OU: Steelers by 7; 44

That dynamite offense hasn't appeared for the Steelers. This could be the week. RB Le'Veon Bell soon should recapture the burst and elusiveness that have been tempered by his preseason holdout. Ben Roethlisberger's passing touch hasn't been precise. WR Antonio Brown hasn't gotten to break out all those new celebratory TD dances. The Bears had better find ways to win or coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace could be looking for work come the cold days.

Texans at Patriots, 1

Line/OU: Patriots by 14; 44½

Houston is 1-8 overall against New England, going 0-5 in Foxborough. Now it journeys into Gillette Stadium with a rookie QB, Deshaun Watson, and a bunch of injuries. Their defense is formidable, though, and will get after QB Tom Brady. Still, after flopping at home in the opener with a second-half collapse against Kansas City, the Pats will be seeking to make amends.

Giants at Eagles, 1

Line/OU: Eagles by 6; 42½

Another team making its home debut and coming off two solid showings. The Eagles need to find a running game to support rapidly developing QB Carson Wentz, and they are banged up on defense. The Giants have ranged from woeful to unwatchable on offense — yes, it might improve once WR Odell Beckham's ankle is 100 percent — and that puts a ridiculous burden on a talented but overworked defense.

Dolphins at Jets, 1

Line/OU: Dolphins 6; 42½

Neither has played a home game, the Dolphins because of Hurricane Irma forcing postponement against the Bucs, the Jets because their fans don't want them to come back to New Jersey. Okay, kidding. Give the Dolphins credit for a gutsy win at the Chargers. That kind of win can provide a hefty boost. So can taking on the Jets, who probably will win a game this season. Won't they?

Browns at Colts, 1

Line/OU: Browns by 1½; 42

A telling sign of how lowly regarded the Luckless Colts are: Cleveland is a road favorite. Yep, the Browns. QB Jacoby Brissett gets his second start for Indy. Having not spent training camp with the Colts, expecting a lot from him is too much. His one edge over his counterpart is that DeShone Kizer is a rookie who had a checkered career at Notre Dame.

Seahawks at Titans, 4

Line/OU: Titans by 3; 41

A high-interest matchup for September. The Titans are considered a rising team, yet they flopped at home against the Raiders before manhandling the Jaguars in Jacksonville. Tennessee probably could win the AFC South without beating any good teams, but that's not really progress, so a victory in this one might be telling. Then again, is Seattle a good team right now? Certainly not on offense, particularly up front.

Chiefs at Chargers, 4:25

Line/OU: Chiefs by 3; 47½

With rookie Younghoe Koo missing two late field goals, the Chargers have yet to win while representing their new home. In come the Chiefs, who merely have been the league's most impressive team so far. They can run, pass, kick and play fierce defense. Coach Andy Reid doesn't want to hear about how good his team has been. "So the ebb and flow of the season, that's how this thing works; you've got to have earmuffs on as you go," Reid says.

Bengals at Packers, 4:25

Line/OU: Packers by 7; 46½

Both teams could serve as poster boys for offensive line struggles but for different reasons. Green Bay's line was banged up in a loss at Atlanta, missing both starting tackles. QB Aaron Rodgers is as creative as they come, but what he was asked to do against the Falcons was unfair, especially when top WR Jordy Nelson had to leave. The Bengals' blocking unit suffers not so much from injuries but, thus far, from ineptitude.

Raiders at Washington, 8:30

Line/OU: Raiders by 3; 55

The Raiders used to flop in trips to the East. That's a thing of the past: Jack Del Rio's group won all three of its games in the region a year ago. Most critical could be whether Washington's lackluster defense can slow down QB Derek Carr, WRs Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper and RB Marshawn Lynch.

Cowboys at Cardinals, 8:30 Monday

Line/OU: Cowboys 3; 46½

Distractions always seem to follow the Cowboys. Those distractions, along with a fearsome Denver defense, took a toll in last week's loss. In the Cowboys' favor is a trip to the Valley of the Sun, which is filled with almost as many Cowboys fans as it is with cactus. Plus, the Cardinals are banged up.

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Comments
New D-line coach Brentson Buckner wants to make Bucs pass rush great again

New D-line coach Brentson Buckner wants to make Bucs pass rush great again

This isn't the first time Brentson Buckner has wanted to get closer to the Bucs defensive line.As a defensive tackle for the Panthers, Buckner's team went 7-9 in 2002, the inaugural season for the NFC South.Tampa Bay won the division that year, and w...
Updated: 4 hours ago
New Bucs assistant Brentson Buckner knows challenge of NFC South QBs

New Bucs assistant Brentson Buckner knows challenge of NFC South QBs

New Bucs defensive line coach Brentson Buckner understands full well what a challenge he'll face in trying to bring down three talented quarterbacks in the NFC South this season."Not getting much sleep," Buckner said, asked of his expectations in a d...
Published: 02/21/18
Bucs add ex-USF, Falcons LB Stephen Nicholas to coaching staff

Bucs add ex-USF, Falcons LB Stephen Nicholas to coaching staff

Dirk Koetter has filled out his 2018 coaching staff, hiring former USF and Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas as his new defensive quality control coach.Nicholas, 34, starred for the Bulls and played in Atlanta from 2007-13, much of that under curre...
Published: 02/21/18
Bucs release Doug Martin and Chris Baker, two of their most disappointing players in 2017

Bucs release Doug Martin and Chris Baker, two of their most disappointing players in 2017

TAMPA – Early in his rookie year, Doug Martin was told he was losing his balance because he was dropping his head as he hit the hole in a game at Oakland.He quickly corrected that mistake and wound up rushing for a career-high 251 yards against...
Published: 02/21/18
Bucs release defensive tackle Chris Baker

Bucs release defensive tackle Chris Baker

Hours after they parted ways with running back Doug Martin, the Bucs continued their initial wave of roster cuts Tuesday afternoon, releasing defensive tackle Chris Baker.Baker, 30, lasted only one season with Tampa Bay, managing just a half-sack aft...
Published: 02/20/18
Bucs release two-time Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin

Bucs release two-time Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin

TAMPA — After six up and mostly down seasons, Doug Martin's run with the Bucs is over.The two-time Pro Bowl running back was released by Tampa Bay Tuesday, a move that was expected after he failed to rush for less than 500 yards in four of the ...
Published: 02/20/18
Some big Bucs roster decisions are looming

Some big Bucs roster decisions are looming

The Bucs plan to release running back Doug Martin and defensive tackle Chris Baker sometime before the NFL scouting combine which begins Feb. 27 in Indianapolis.There likely will be more, but they still are undecided on the future of defensive ends R...
Published: 02/20/18
Defensive linemen who could follow Brentson Buckner to Bucs

Defensive linemen who could follow Brentson Buckner to Bucs

Now that the Bucs have announced that Brentson Buckner is their new defensive line coach, could his connections help shape Tampa Bay's search to upgrade their pass rush this offseason?The chance to play for a familiar position coach can be a major fa...
Published: 02/20/18
Bucs agree to terms with Brentson Buckner to be their defensive line coach

Bucs agree to terms with Brentson Buckner to be their defensive line coach

Brentson Buckner didn't need to bring his resume when he interviewed for the Bucs' job as defensive line coach. No references were needed, either.All the Bucs had to do was ask quarterback Jameis Winston whether the Arizona Cardinals defensive line w...
Published: 02/19/18
On the mend: Bucs’ Noah Spence posts workout pic

On the mend: Bucs’ Noah Spence posts workout pic

Defensive end Noah Spence, whose two NFL seasons have both been limited by injuries to his right shoulder, is getting himself healthy for the 2018 season.Spence has kept a low profile since the Bucs placed him on injured reserve in late October, a mo...
Published: 02/19/18