Sunday, February 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Week 7 capsules, previews

Giants vs. Rams at London, 9:30 a.m.

Line/OU: Giants by 3; 44

The NFL's forays to Europe continue with this game at England's Twickenham Stadium, which usually hosts big rugby matches. Because the Rams are the home team, they will play only seven games in L.A. in their first year back in the city. The fans at home might be okay with skipping what could become an ugly game if the Rams defense continues to struggle.

Vikings at Eagles, 1

Line/OU: Vikings by 3; 39

You might think that Sam Bradford facing the Eagles, the team that traded him in the preseason, would result in a revenge game, but how could there be bitterness on either side? Bradford is the starting QB for the NFL's last undefeated team. The Eagles were clearly wise to hand the offense to rookie Carson Wentz, who has lost two games in a row but has yet to produce fewer than 20 points in a game and has the makings of a star. The advantage goes to the Vikings, though. Their elite secondary will give any passing team a tough day.

Redskins at Lions, 1

Line/OU: Lions by 1; 50

Toward the end of Detroit's Week 5 win over Philadelphia, Golden Tate had a big reception that helped set up a go-ahead field goal. It was the lone bright point in what had been a tumultuous start to the season, but it apparently sparked something inside him; last week, he had eight catches for 165 yards and a TD in a win over Los Angeles. If Tate returns to his form of the past few seasons, the Lions offense will be in good shape.

Browns at Bengals, 1

Line/OU: Bengals by 10; 45½

Former Gator Joe Haden, Cleveland's top cornerback, is nursing a groin injury and would be wise to let it heal another week, as his presence won't prevent this game from being a slaughter. If anything, he might want to look into some sort of cryogenic freezing process so he could sit out several seasons and then be reanimated when the Browns have built a roster with more than four or five interesting players. The same goes for Joe Thomas, the team's dominant offensive tackle, whose prime years are being wasted.

Ravens at Jets, 1

Line/OU: Jets by 2; 40½

Ryan Fitzpatrick has lost the starting QB job to Geno Smith, which will probably cost him the chance to complete an amazing reversal: Last season, he broke Vinny Testaverde's franchise record for single-season passing TDs, which had stood since 1998, and this season, he was nearly on a pace to break Al Dorow's franchise record for single-season INTs, which has stood since 1961 (matched by Richard Todd in 1980).

Colts at Titans, 1

Line/OU: Titans by 3; 48

DeMarco Murray is probably not as good as he looked in Dallas two seasons ago, but he's also not as bad as he looked in Philadelphia last season. Entering his seventh game with the Titans, he needs 176 rushing yards and two TDs to match his 15-game totals from last year. Running behind one of the best offensive lines and against one of the worst defenses just might get him there.

Raiders at Jaguars, 1

Line/OU: Jaguars by 1; 47½

Oakland's productive passing attack had a rare poor showing last week, but holding QB Derek Carr to 10 points again would be too much to ask of Jacksonville's developing young defense. The Raiders have too many options.

Bills at Dolphins, 1

Line/OU: Bills by 3; 44

The Bills' hot streak after an 0-2 start seemed to come out of nowhere, and it is hard to believe it will end against the Dolphins. Riding some great play by the team's defense, a tough rushing attack and enough passing to keep defenses honest, Buffalo has turned into an ideal Rex Ryan team, and that is bad news for Miami, which is averaging 16 first downs per game, worst in the league. With LeSean McCoy nursing a tight hamstring, backup and former Gator Mike Gillislee could have busy day.

Saints at Chiefs, 1

Line/OU: Chiefs by 6; 50½

Neither of these teams has shown enough consistency for there to be a worthwhile prediction. The Chiefs' most reliable asset is their secondary, and the most reliable thing about the Saints is their defense will be terrible nearly every week. So those two things should combine for a Chiefs victory in some form.

Chargers at Falcons, 4

Line/OU: Falcons by 6; 54½

The Falcons, whose four-game winning streak ended last week, have been playing well with Matt Ryan reasserting himself as a star QB and WR Julio Jones looking unstoppable when healthy. This week, they will add style to the mix: The combination of a black jersey and white pants is a throwback to their 1966 uniforms; a black helmet recalls their look of the late 1990s; and their black-, red- and white-striped socks should look fantastic as they streak past Chargers and into the end zone.

Patriots at Steelers, 4:25

Line/OU: Patriots by 7; 47

The absence of QB Ben Roethlisberger (knee) takes away much of the drama. Losing the QB is a blow to the entire offense, but to WR Antonio Brown, especially. Last season, in the 12 games he played with Roethlisberger (11 that he started and one in which he came on in relief for most of the game), Brown averaged 9.9 catches for 133 yards, scoring 10 TDs. In the four games Brown played primarily with Pittsburgh's other QB options, he averaged four catches for 59 yards and did not score. A similar downturn by Brown would sink the Pittsburgh offense, even with RB Le'Veon Bell at his best. Pittsburgh's "bend but don't break" defensive approach is risky against the Patriots, who can send tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett out on any red zone play and watch as they outrun, outjump and outmuscle anyone who tries to get in their way.

Seahawks at Cardinals, 8:30

Line/OU: Cardinals by 2; 43½

It seems ridiculous to attach so much importance to a Week 7 game, but in a meeting of division rivals that excel on both sides of the ball, it could go a long way to deciding the NFC West. If the Cardinals win, it's a race to the finish. If they lose, Seattle's lead will be nearly insurmountable. In the past, it would have been up to Cardinals QB Carson Palmer to get things done, but at 36, he has shown signs of decline. RB David Johnson has become all-important to Arizona's offense. He frustrates defenses by being an effective runner — third in the NFL with 568 rushing yards — and by serving as a safety valve for the passing game, turning swing passes into huge gains. With far less fanfare than Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott, he is leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 833 to Elliott's 801. Johnson and Palmer will be tested against a Seattle defense that has allowed 74.6 yards a game on the ground.

Texans at Broncos, 8:30 Monday

Line/OU: Broncos by 9; 40½

QB Brock Osweiler returns to Denver to face team that drafted him in second round in 2012. Osweiler went 5-2 when Peyton Manning was hurt last season but was benched for playoff run, then bolted to Houston in free agency. DE Jadeveon Clowney tied for NFL lead with eight tackles for loss. Broncos coming off virtual bye week: they played first game of Week 6 and play last game of Week 7, so they got three-day weekend coming in. QB Trevor Siemian 2-0 as starter at home. OLB Von Miller has 12½ sacks, three forced fumbles and INT in past eight games, including playoffs. Denver coach Gary Kubiak returns to sideline after missing one game with complex migraine.

Times wires

Comments
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