Thursday, February 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 1: NFL preview capsules

Packers at Jaguars, 1

Line/OU: Packers by 5; 471/2

There's no shortage of optimism for Jacksonville's future after an offseason that revamped the roster with shrewd draft picks and expensive free agents. But while losing teams rebuild, winning teams reload. The Packers have done that with the return of Jordy Nelson, the team's top WR, who missed last season because of injury. There has been much conversation around RB Eddie Lacy's offseason weight loss.

Raiders at Saints, 1

Line/OU: Saints by 1½; 51½

The Raiders have built a team that seems on the verge of big things, thanks to LB Khalil Mack, who is the rare type of player who single-handedly changes games. His 15 sacks last season felt like the beginning of something special. Oakland is also strong on offense, with QB Derek Carr having built a strong rapport with WRs Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and Latavius Murray has shown flashes of brilliance at RB. The Saints will be a threat as long as QB Drew Brees chooses to play, especially when they are at home, but there is little reason to believe they suddenly know how to play defense.

Bills at Ravens, 1

Line/OU: Ravens by 3; 44½

The Bills showed some promise for a bright future last season, but the team failed at the thing coach Rex Ryan is known for: quality defense. Ryan brought in his brother Rob to help right the ship, and while the preseason was not all that encouraging, Week 1 could see some improvement as two rookies are expected to start on the left side of Baltimore's offensive line.

Chargers at Chiefs, 1

Line/OU: Chiefs by 6½; 44½

Whether Jamaal Charles is ready to return from the knee injury he endured last season hardly seems to matter in the short term as Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware are more than capable of piling up rushing yards against San Diego.

Bears at Texans, 1

Line/OU: Texans by 6; 43½

Brock Osweiler might or might not succeed as a starting QB in the NFL — the Broncos certainly seemed skeptical when they let him walk away despite not having another experienced QB on the roster — but everyone is sure that at 6 feet 8, he is very tall. Coach John Fox's Bears also have a lot of questions in terms of ability, and are not nearly as tall.

Vikings at Titans, 1

Line/OU: Vikings by 2½; 40½

Anyone clamoring for Sam Bradford to start, or come on in relief, for Minnesota this week might be overestimating the difference between him and Shaun Hill, but either QB can probably manage enough offense to fend off a Titans team that has some promising pieces but is a long way from being dangerous.

Browns at Eagles, 1

Line/OU: Eagles by 3½; 41

The Browns were so sure that Carson Wentz was not a viable solution at QB that the team traded away the No. 2 pick in the draft rather than select him. It will be very awkward if his first game as a rookie quarterback results in a win over the Browns.

Bengals at Jets, 1

Line/OU: Bengals by 2½; 42

At full strength, the Bengals are a better team than the Jets, but they will play without standout LB Vontaze Burfict, who is suspended for repeated violations of the league's safety rules, and star TE Tyler Eifert, who is recovering from offseason ankle surgery. The Jets, meanwhile, begrudgingly retained Ryan Fitzpatrick after a franchise-record 31 TD passes last season. The addition of Matt Forte, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, to the running game should help balance the offense.

Dolphins at Seahawks, 4

Line/OU: Seahawks by 10½; 44½

Olivier Vernon left for New York, Cameron Wake is working his way back from an Achilles tear and Ndamukong Suh seemed far less dominant in his first season in Miami. But even with those things all being true, a strong game from the Dolphins' defensive line against a vulnerable Seattle offensive line is the best hope of this game not being embarrassing.

Lions at Colts, 4:25

Line/OU: Colts by 3; 50½

Calvin Johnson's surprising retirement not only left the Lions without their No. 1 WR, it will also force a trial by fire for Golden Tate, who thrived as Detroit's No. 2 last season but may have been benefiting greatly from Johnson's presence. As Detroit contemplates a post-Johnson world, the Colts are mostly hoping QB Andrew Luck can put his health concerns behind him.

Giants at Cowboys, 4:25

Line/OU: Pick; 46½

The good news for Dak Prescott, a rookie who will begin the season as the Cowboys' starter because of a back injury to Tony Romo, is he can hardly do worse than Romo's backups did last season when they were 1-11 in place of the Pro Bowl QB. The even better news is he might not be asked to do much, as Dallas' impenetrable offensive line should have a fairly easy time opening wide holes for rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott.

Patriots at Cardinals, 8:30

Line/OU: Cardinals by 6; 46

It will take time to determine if it was wise for New England to trade Chandler Jones to the Cardinals, but in Week 1, it will almost assuredly haunt the Patriots. The linebacker will be wreaking havoc as part of a stout Arizona defense that will try to make life miserable for Jimmy Garoppolo, New England's backup QB who has been forced into a starting role because of Tom Brady's suspension. The Patriots have to hope Garoppolo can win at least two games in Brady's four-game absence.

Steelers at Washington, 7:10 Monday

Line/OU: Steelers by 3; 49½

Steelers WR Antonio Brown and Washington CB Josh Norman, both All-Pros, will face off for the first time since 2014 when Norman was with Carolina. Pittsburgh RB Le'Veon Bell is serving the first of a three-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Washington's Kirk Cousins has thrown 232 regular-season passes at home without an INT.

Rams at 49ers, 10:20 Monday

Line/OU: Rams by 2½; 42½

The Rams, playing their first game as a Los Angeles franchise since leaving for St. Louis after the 1994 season, have won just one of their past eight trips to San Francisco. There will be several other firsts: Rams QB Case Keenum will start the first season opener of his career, and Chip Kelly will coach his firstirst game with San Francisco. 49ers QB Blaine Gabbert will start his first opener since 2013 with Jacksonville.

Times wires

Comments
Bucs sign ex-New Hampshire RB Dalton Crossan

Bucs sign ex-New Hampshire RB Dalton Crossan

February signings in the NFL usually face long odds to stick on rosters in the fall, but the Bucs added to their running back depth on Thursday, signing former New Hampshire star Dalton Crossan.Crossan, who turns 24 on Sunday, went to training camp l...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Police: DeSean Jackson’s former Eagles teammate drove truck found wrecked with bullets, marijuana inside

Police: DeSean Jackson’s former Eagles teammate drove truck found wrecked with bullets, marijuana inside

TAMPA  — With no witnesses and no video evidence, Tampa Police have stopped investigating a case from Christmas Eve that had a truck belonging to Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson found wrecked and abandoned in a mall parking lot with hollow-po...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Brentson Buckner wants more than sacks from Bucs d-line

Brentson Buckner wants more than sacks from Bucs d-line

Much has been made of the Bucs finishing last in the NFL in sacks with just 22 during the 2017 season, but new defensive line coach Brentson Buckner says he measures success in much more than the ultimate goal of a sack."You play 1,300 plays, you hav...
Updated: 11 hours ago
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...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/22/18
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