Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Week 9 preview capsules

Lions at Vikings, 1

Line/OU: Vikings by 6½; 41½

What a difference two weeks make. The Vikings came out of their bye 5-0 and filled with optimism. Their secondary was dominant, and QB Sam Bradford seemed to be in an offensive system he could thrive in. But now they're 5-2, and Norv Turner, the offensive coordinator, resigned midweek without a real explanation.

Eagles at Giants, 1

Line/OU: Giants by 2½; 42½

Philadelphia's three losses have come by a combined 14 points. Rookie QB Carson Wentz has been efficient and has made the offense competitive, but he has lacked the big-play ability to attack a team and put it away. His one attempt to score a knockout blow resulted in an INT that cost his team the game in Week 5. Eli Manning, while hardly perfect, is a good role model for Wentz as a player who has found a way to get big plays when he needs them.

Cowboys at Browns, 1

Line/OU: Cowboys by 7; 48½

If you were going to rank the Browns' QBs this year, you would probably go: Cody Kessler, Josh McCown, Charlie Whitehurst, Terrelle Pryor, Robert Griffin III, Kevin Hogan. That there are six to rank is troubling. That one of them is a wide receiver, and that he is not last on the list, is worse. Kessler, who looked fairly good in five starts (all losses), is expected to be back today, so Cleveland might lose by fewer points than it would have otherwise.

Jets at Dolphins, 1

Line/OU: Dolphins by 4; 44

In the first 13 games of Jay Ajayi's career, his highest rushing total was 48 yards. With Miami off to a 1-3 start, the team gave Ajayi, a second-year running back, a greater chance. He responded by becoming the fourth RB in league history to record consecutive games with 200 or more rushing yards. Ajayi did not rule out making it three in a row: "If it does happen again, that's going to be an amazing thing, an incredible thing."

Steelers at Ravens, 1

Line/OU: Steelers by 2; 43½

QB Ben Roethlisberger as of Saturday hadn't officially been named the starter for Pittsburgh. "Don't fall for that. I saw this movie before," Ravens LB Terrell Suggs said. "He's going to act like, 'I'm not playing. I don't know. I did individual today and threw a little bit. I still don't know.' Then he's going to walk on out there."

Jaguars at Chiefs, 1

Line/OU: Chiefs by 7½; 44½

It seems to be an open question as to whether QB Alex Smith sustained a concussion last week. Regardless of why he's out, Nick Foles will be Kansas City's starter. Also missing will be RB Jamaal Charles and RB Spencer Ware. That the Chiefs are still heavily favored says a lot about how much Jacksonville has not lived up to its preseason hype.

Panthers at Rams, 4

Line/OU: Panthers by 3; 44½

A Panthers win over Arizona last week stopped the bleeding of a four-game skid, but with QB Cam Newton having lost the joy he showed for much of last season, the team is far less compelling and far less dangerous. A chance to exploit the Rams' subpar secondary might be just what the doctor ordered to bring Newton's smile back, provided he doesn't have to endure more late hits.

Saints at 49ers, 4

Line/OU: Saints by 4; 52½

The 49ers are allowing a league-worst average 31.3 points a game, which is misleading because of a shutout of the Rams in Week 1. Since that game, San Francisco has allowed an average of 36.5 points and now has to face a robust offense that is riding high after beating Seattle last week.

Colts at Packers, 4:25

Line/OU: Packers by 7; 54½

The Packers' offense has hardly been at its best this season, averaging 24.6 points. But in the past three games, it has increased that average to 29.7 and now faces a porous Colts defense. In a one-on-one test of quarterbacking skill, Andrew Luck of the Colts might be able to compete with Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, but once you factor in their teammates, this high-scoring affair should be a win for Green Bay.

Titans at Chargers, 4:25

Line/OU: Chargers by 4; 47

The Titans have unexpectedly become a playoff contender, and they have done it by consistently being able to run the ball enough to offset their flaws. RB DeMarco Murray has a tough challenge this week against the Chargers, but he and QB Marcus Mariota could pull off an upset.

Broncos at Raiders, 8:30

Line/OU: Raiders by 1; 44

It would be hard to call what the Broncos and Raiders have had in recent years a rivalry. Since the start of the 2003 season, Denver has won 18 of 26 against Oakland, including nine of the past 10. But the Raiders beat the Broncos in December, and they might be able to get a modest winning streak going if their offense, led by QB Derek Carr, can find breathing room against Denver's punishing defense, including its stacked secondary. Carr threw for a franchise-record 513 yards with four TDs in last week's OT win at Tampa Bay. But even Carr seems to know how difficult it will be to achieve similar success against the Broncos and cornerbacks Chris Harris and Aqib Talib.

Bills at Seahawks, 8:30 Monday

Line/OU: Seahawks by 7; 43½

The Bills are trying to have winning record after nine games for seventh time in the past 16 seasons. They have not finished better than 9-7 in any of those seasons and last made the playoffs in 1999. RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) is questionable. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in two of past three games played. The Seahawks are going for their 11th straight win on Monday night; they have highest win percentage (.733) in the history of Monday night games.

Times wires

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The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places: a city new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world, Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first first-year expansion team to win a championship.And t...
Published: 05/25/18
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Published: 05/25/18
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy welcomes Vita Vea to his rookie school

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy welcomes Vita Vea to his rookie school

TAMPA — Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has always been generous with his time, staying after practice to work with younger players. That should be a real added benefit for first-round pick Vita Vea.RELATED: More Bucs coverage"That's my M.O.'' Mc...
Published: 05/25/18
The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

TAMPA — Only three players in NFL history have posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons in each of his first four years seasons: Randy Moss, A.J. Green and the Bucs' Mike Evans.RELATED: More Bucs coverageBut by Evans' standards, 2017 was "proba...
Published: 05/25/18
Why interceptions are up at One Buc Place

Why interceptions are up at One Buc Place

TAMPA — If the first few days of OTAs are any indication, the Bucs secondary could be much improved.Completions may be down, interceptions should be up.RELATED: More Bucs coverage"A lot of interceptions,'' coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday' afte...
Published: 05/25/18
Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

TAMPA — This much is clear: The National Football League is focused on getting rid of kneeling players.That was the league's announcement Wednesday in requiring players to stand during the national anthem before games or possibly have their tea...
Published: 05/24/18
Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Two high draft picks that could earn starting jobs signed four year contracts with the Bucs Thursday.The team signed Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round pick.Terms of the deal were not released, but Vea  is expected to r...
Published: 05/24/18
Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs offensive lineman Ali Marpet questioned the legality of the NFL's new  policy that requires players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if t...
Published: 05/24/18
Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

The dust has settled from another NFL draft, and Bucs general manager Jason Licht has made three promotions in his scouting department as a new year of player evaluation begins.Byron Kiefer, entering his 14th season with the Bucs and fourth as a nati...
Published: 05/24/18
NFL’s new anthem policy requires players to stand on sideline or remain in locker room

NFL’s new anthem policy requires players to stand on sideline or remain in locker room

ATLANTA — The NFL and the owners of its 32 teams enacted a new national anthem policy Wednesday designed, they said, to compel players to stand if they’re on the sideline for the playing of the anthem prior to a game."Clearly our objective as a leagu...
Published: 05/23/18