Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Week 8 preview capsules

Redskins vs. Bengals at London, 9:30 a.m.

Line/OU: Bengals by 3; 49½

Bengals face former offensive coordinator for second straight game. Washington coach Jay Gruden developed Andy Dalton in Cincinnati from 2011-13. Bengals beat Hue Jackson's Browns 31-17 last Sunday. Redskins have only six three-and-out series all season, best in NFL. Dalton ranks fourth in NFL with 2,065 yards passing, but he has been sacked 22 times, second most in NFL. A.J. Green leads NFL with 50 catches and is second to Atlanta's Julio Jones with 775 yards.

Patriots at Bills, 1

Line/OU: Patriots by 6; 47

The Patriots and Bills are fairly similar in scoring, points allowed, total offense and total defense. But those figures include the four games New England played without Tom Brady. The Patriots have hit a different gear since their star QB returned from a suspension. With Brady this season, the Patriots have averaged 31.7 points a game, and he has looked better than ever, completing 75 percent to a diverse group of receivers. Buffalo relies on its running game and defense to win games, with Tyrod Taylor throwing more than 250 passing yards just once this season. It is a formula that works most weeks but is not enough to keep up with Pats' offense.

Cardinals at Panthers, 1

Line/OU: Panthers by 3; 47½

In a stark contrast from their last meeting, in last season's NFC Championship Game, this matchup has relatively low stakes. Most notable is that the 1-5 team is favored, a shocker even if it is a home game. That says a lot about how inconsistent Arizona has been and how fluky people consider Carolina's awful start to be. Arizona's defense is one of the best, and will have quite a task in trying to slow Cam Newton and the Carolina offense. Whichever team wins, it is just a single step on the long road to fixing a bad season. The losing team, however, may need to start looking forward to the offseason.

Chiefs at Colts, 1

Line/OU: Chiefs by 3; 50½

Frank Gore, 33, is in the twilight of his career, but the Colts running back is still productive and again in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing yards with 495. The former University of Miami star has passed Thurman Thomas, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen, Edgerrin James, Marshall Faulk and Jim Brown on his way to being ninth on the career rushing list. Next up is Tony Dorsett, and while Gore probably cannot get the 204 yards he needs to catch him this week, he can still play a big part in a Colts upset.

Lions at Texans, 1

Line/OU: Texans by 1½; 46

Matthew Stafford has been getting a great deal of praise for leading the Lions to three consecutive wins, but each was a nail-biter in which he received plenty of help from the opposing team falling apart. Stafford deserves credit for taking advantage, and if he can get more support from the running game, which should not be a problem against Houston, he might be able to get a road win without quite as much drama.

Jets at Browns, 1

Line/OU: Jets by 3; 44½

It's expected to be chilly and rainy, the Browns have not won this season, and with Cody Kessler working his way back from a concussion, Cleveland is likely to start either Josh McCown or Kevin Hogan at QB. Add all of that to Cleveland fans being distracted by preparation for Game 5 of the World Series and this could be one of the least-watched NFL games in memory.

Chargers at Broncos, 4

Line/OU: Broncos by 4; 44

Denver remembered how to run the ball last week: C.J. Anderson helped lead the way in an easy win over Houston. Unfortunately, Anderson also sustained a knee injury that forced the team to put him on injured reserve and will keep him out for several weeks, which leaves rookie Devontae Booker to carry the load. Provided Denver's defense plays better than it did in a loss to San Diego two weeks ago, the drop-off from Anderson to Booker should not affect the outcome.

Packers at Falcons, 4:25

Line/OU: Falcons by 3; 52½

Two teams with good QBs, questionable running games and bad secondaries could result in a wild game of throwing the ball up and seeing what happens. In the past, that might have favored the Packers' Aaron Rodgers, but other than in last week's easy win over the Bears, he has not looked nearly as polished this season as the Falcons' Matt Ryan, who is leading the NFL with 2,348 passing yards and has averaged an incredible 9.6 yards an attempt. Green Bay has been using WR Ty Montgomery in various roles with depleted backfield situation.

Seahawks at Saints, 1

Line/OU: Seahawks by 2; 48

Seattle seemed to take a major step back last week, with the team's offense looking absolutely incompetent in a 6-6 tie with Arizona. The New Orleans defense is a lot easier to score on than the Cardinals', but with his style of play seemingly affected by various issues this season, QB Russell Wilson will have to find a way to rekindle his previous success if he wants to outscore Drew Brees.

Eagles at Cowboys, 8:30

Line/OU: Cowboys by 5; 43

Philly has won three straight at Dallas, tied with Denver for longest current streak. QBs Carson Wentz (Eagles) and Dak Prescott (Cowboys) face each other after trading rookie record for pass attempts without INT to start career. Prescott eventually set overall record at 176. Wentz leads rookies with eight passing TDs; Prescott has passer rating of at least 100 in five straight games, all wins. Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott, coming off career-high 157 yards rushing against Green Bay, is first rookie with four straight games of at least 130 yards. Cowboys are second in NFL with eight rushes of at least 20 yards. Eagles have allowed six, among worst in league.

Vikings at Bears, 8:30 Monday

Line/OU: Vikings by 4½; 41

Vikings tied for league lead with average of 14 points allowed, fewest through six games for this franchise since 1988. Vikings lead NFL in turnover margin (plus-11) and turnovers forced (16). With Thursday night game last week and bye coming up, this is Chicago's lone game in 23-day span. Bears are averaging league-low 15.9 points. With QB Brian Hoyer breaking left arm against Green Bay, Jay Cutler is back after missing past five games because of sprained right thumb. Expect more from WR Alshon Jeffery with Cutler more likely to go deep than Hoyer.

Times wires

Comments

Bucsí Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David out for Mondayís game vs. Falcons

TAMPA ó As if containing All-Pro Julio Jones and the Falcons offense isnít challenging enough, the Bucs will try to do so Monday night without perhaps their top defensive players, tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David.On Saturday, Bucs coa...
Published: 12/16/17
McCoy, David, Hargreaves all out Monday against Falcons

McCoy, David, Hargreaves all out Monday against Falcons

As if containing Julio Jones and the Falcons offense weren't challenging enough, the Bucs will try to so Monday night without perhaps their top two defensive players in DT Gerald McCoy and LB Lavonte David.Bucs coach Dirk Koetter on Saturday ruled bo...
Published: 12/16/17
Bucsí Ward glad to be back, eager for rematch with brother Terron

Bucsí Ward glad to be back, eager for rematch with brother Terron

Bucs safety T.J. Ward will make a healthy return Monday after missing two games with a concussion, and it's also a chance to face his brother Terron, a running back with the Falcons."Our whole family's going to be there, rooting us on," T.J. said aft...
Published: 12/16/17
Jones: Tony Dungy didnít leave the Bucs on the clearance rack

Jones: Tony Dungy didnít leave the Bucs on the clearance rack

It is and always will be the greatest debate in Tampa Bay sports history.Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy?You donít even need to say anything more than that. Bucs fans already know what youíre talking about.Gruden or Dungy?Who was most responsible for the on...
Published: 12/16/17
Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? Why the debate rages on

Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? Why the debate rages on

TAMPA — Bucs coach Jon Gruden did not win the Super Bowl with Tony Dungy’s team. Don’t believe me? Ask Dungy. "It wasn’t. They did a great job. They took it and tweaked it," Dungy said. "The same way I got a great (Colts) tea...
Published: 12/16/17
Staff writers pick sides (kind of) in the Dungy-Gruden debate

Staff writers pick sides (kind of) in the Dungy-Gruden debate

Even with ó perhaps especially with óJon Gruden set to be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor Monday night, Tampa Bayís Great Sports Debate hasnít abated. Who deserves more credit for the biggest moment in Tampa Bay sports history ó the Bucsí Super ...
Published: 12/16/17
Nobody has Jameis Winstonís back more than Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator Todd Monken insists

Nobody has Jameis Winstonís back more than Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator Todd Monken insists

Nobody is a bigger supporter of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston than head coach Dirk Koetter.That was the passionate message that offensive coordinator/receivers coach Todd Monken unloaded at his news conference Friday, saying that reports that Winst...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
Bucs journal: Adarius Glantonís experience could come in handy for ailing LB corps

Bucs journal: Adarius Glantonís experience could come in handy for ailing LB corps

TAMPA ó The Bucsí linebacker depth was tested during the first five weeks of the season, when Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander missed a combined six games with injuries.And now, as David is again sidelined by a hamstring injury, the experience gained...
Published: 12/15/17
Cannon Fodder podcast: Letís revisit Monday night games in Bucsí past

Cannon Fodder podcast: Letís revisit Monday night games in Bucsí past

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman has injury updates on Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy and a nostalgic trip through the Bucsí history on Monday night, including the current three-game win streak and yes, that infamous 2003 Colts game where the Bucs were u...
Published: 12/15/17
Why the Bucs need a Dungy more than a Gruden

Why the Bucs need a Dungy more than a Gruden

TAMPA ó The worst week of Dirk Koetterís life rolls on.Itís Gruden Week, just like Shark Week, only with smaller teeth and a bigger playbook. Itís the big build-up to Grudenís induction into the Buc Ring of Honor this Monday night, with the accompany...
Published: 12/15/17