Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday NFL wild-card preview capsules: Dolphins-Steelers, Giants-Packers

AFC: Dolphins (10-6) at Steelers (11-5), 1

TV: CBS

Line/OU: Steelers by 11; 46

On Oct. 16, the Dolphins were 1-4, worst in the AFC East. The Steelers were 4-1, kings of the AFC North. They met in Pittsburgh, and Miami won, in a game no one at the time considered a postseason preview. Yet here they are. The Dolphins won Round 1 because Jay Ajayi gained 204 yards rushing on 25 carries and scored two touchdowns. It helped that Miami's Ryan Tannehill completed 24 of 32 passes for 252 yards, but he has been out with a sprained knee since Week 11. It is up to replacement Matt Moore, who is making the first postseason start of his nine-year career, to provide air cover for the running game. The Steelers' Le'Veon Bell, who missed the past two postseasons with knee injuries, rushed 110 times for 569 yards in the last four games of the regular season, and he averaged 187 yards from scrimmage. QB Ben Roethlisberger, who played with an injured knee in the first meeting with the Dolphins, has led the Steelers to seven straight victories. Pittsburgh has the league's fourth-ranked red-zone defense.

NFC: Giants (11-5) at Packers (10-6), 4:40

TV: Fox

Line/OU: Packers by 5; 44½

Giants fans keep waiting for the return of the good Eli Manning, the QB who won two Super Bowl rings with wild-card teams — both after passing through Green Bay. Only one team has allowed fewer points than the Giants this season. They allowed 10, 6 and 7 points in their past three victories. That was necessary because Manning's offense scored 19, 17 and 10. The Giants need Manning to flip the playoff switch, especially if Packers QB Aaron Rodgers turns this game into a Lambeau Leap-a-thon. That is what happens when Rodgers has at least five seconds to find open receivers. Giants CBs Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie cannot cover their men forever, not against one of the best ad-lib throwers in the league. Rodgers has not thrown an interception in 245 straight passes, which helps explain how Green Bay won its final six (three against playoff teams). The Packers have scored at least 30 in each of the past four weeks to outpace their defensive shortcomings.

Times wires

Comments
Dirk Koetter on Bucs QB situation: “We know what we’re going to do.”

Dirk Koetter on Bucs QB situation: “We know what we’re going to do.”

TAMPA — Dirk Koetter knows. He met with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick Tuesday and now they know. But he doesn't want the Chicago Bears to know which will quarterback the Bucs Sunday at Soldier Field.So the waiting game continues."So I kno...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ryan Fitzpatrick played better than you may think

Ryan Fitzpatrick played better than you may think

TAMPA — The announcement of which Bucs quarterback will start at Chicago Sunday will have to wait.Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick met with Dirk Koetter Tuesday and were given the news."So we know what we're going to do,'' Koetter said. "Bot...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy heard apologizing to Ben Roethlisberger mid-hit

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy heard apologizing to Ben Roethlisberger mid-hit

For all of his accomplishments on the field, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has been dogged by unfair criticism throughout his career that he's too nice.One moment during Monday's 30-27 loss to the Steelers isn't going to help him in th...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Buccaneers AfterMath: Tampa Bay’s defense is raising red flags

Buccaneers AfterMath: Tampa Bay’s defense is raising red flags

You might have walked away from the game Monday night feeling pretty good about your Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sure, the first half was about as ugly as it gets. After the Steelers returned Ryan Fitzpatrick’s third interception for a touchdown late...
Published: 09/25/18
Eduardo A. Encina joins the Times to cover the Bucs

Eduardo A. Encina joins the Times to cover the Bucs

ST. PETERSBURG — Eduardo A. Encina, an award-winning sportswriter with an extensive background covering Tampa Bay sports, is returning to the Times to cover the Bucs.Encina will join Rick Stroud, Thomas Bassinger and columnists Tom Jones and Ma...
Published: 09/25/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Did Ryan Fitzpatrick do enough to keep his job?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Did Ryan Fitzpatrick do enough to keep his job?

Rick Stroud and Times sports columnist Tom Jones break down the Bucs' 30-27 loss to the Steelers on Monday Night Football.Ryan Fitzpatrick  had a difficult first half, throwing three interceptions, but  led a second-half comeback that ...
Published: 09/25/18
The magic has worn off. Time for the Bucs to start Jameis Winston

The magic has worn off. Time for the Bucs to start Jameis Winston

TAMPA — So this will be a fun and interesting week over at One Buc Place.Who's the quarterback?That question will be asked a few times. The likely answer will end up being Ryan Fitzpatrick.But this question will be asked a few dozen times:...
Published: 09/25/18
Winston or Fitzpatrick? Reading between the lines in the Bucs locker room

Winston or Fitzpatrick? Reading between the lines in the Bucs locker room

TAMPA — At some point Tuesday morning, Jameis Winston will walk into the office of head coach Dirk Koetter and get the news.There will likely be hugs and handshakes, but within the first few minutes, Koetter will tell Winston what his role will...
Published: 09/25/18
Why the Bucs kept going to Chris Godwin

Why the Bucs kept going to Chris Godwin

TAMPA  — Chris Godwin's first three quarters Monday night weren't as rough as Ryan Fitzpatrick's, but they were close.Through 45 minutes of Tampa Bay's 30-27 loss to Pittsburgh, Godwin dropped two touchdown passes, had another TD reception...
Published: 09/25/18
Bucs-Steelers report card: There is still work to be done

Bucs-Steelers report card: There is still work to be done

TAMPA — They couldn't stick the landing. The FitzMagic ran out.Monday night against the Steelers, Tony Dungy night, was supposed to be the coming-out party, a new beginning, the Bucs on national TV, showing America that 2-0 was not make believe...
Published: 09/25/18