Sunday, May 27, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 2 NFL preview capsules

Bengals at Steelers, 1

Line/OU: Steelers by 3; 48½

Games between these two always seem heated, but that was especially true last season when they had a pregame fight in the regular season, then had a playoff game that was brutal. Bengals will be without LB Vontaze Burfict, serving three-game suspension as punishment for helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers WR Antonio Brown in playoff game. But even a dynamic Bengals offense that got stronger with the addition of Brandon LaFell as the No. 2 WR cannot match the firepower of Pittsburgh, which might have the best QB-WR combo in Ben Roethlisberger and Brown and did not miss a beat in Week 1 without the suspended Le'Veon Bell, as DeAngelo Williams rushed for 143 yards and two TDs.

Dolphins at Patriots, 1

Line/OU: Patriots by 6½; 41½

Looking at another week without Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski or Rob Ninkovich, the Patriots should feel awfully confident since their backups led the team to victory over Arizona last week. Miami is not nearly as talented as Arizona, and short of the Patriots looking beyond the matchup and getting surprised — not something that happens often in the Bill Belichick era — this one should be a laugher.

Cowboys at Redskins, 1

Line/OU: Redskins by 3; 45½

Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott didn't have the start to his career that most expected, gaining just 51 yards on 20 carries while running behind the league's best offensive line. But the team is committed to the run in Tony Romo's absence, and some combination of Elliott and Alfred Morris — the veteran running back who joined the team as a free agent after four years with Washington — should be able to wear down the Redskins defense. Cowboys have won three straight at Washington. Redskins won NFC East last season despite not beating a team that finished 2015 with winning record.

Saints at Giants, 1

Line/OU: Giants by 4½; 53½

The Saints offense put on a show last week. Brandin Cooks recorded a 98-yard TD, the longest reception in the NFL since 2011, on his way to 143 yards, and Willie Snead was even better with nine catches for 172 yards. It did not matter, because the Saints defense did absolutely nothing to stop Oakland from stealing the game. Unfortunately for Drew Brees, that is the standard script of Saints games from the last several seasons.

Chiefs at Texans, 1

Line/OU: Texans by 2; 43

The Chiefs rallied to win last week by airing the ball out but would likely prefer to get back to their strengths of playing stifling defense and running their opponent into submission. That will be hard this week because J.J. Watt found his rhythm in the second half of a Week 1 win over Chicago, and the relentless pressure that he and Houston's stellar defensive front provides should give the Texans the edge.

Titans at Lions, 1

Line/OU: Lions by 6; 47½

A good way to respond when people wonder loudly if your career will fall apart after the surprising retirement of WR Calvin Johnson is to complete 31 of 38 for 340 yards and three TDs, as Matthew Stafford did last week for the Lions. Lions have won seven of nine, dating to last season. Titans have lost five straight, dating to last season, though they did hold Vikings' Adrian Peterson to 31 yards rushing last week.

Ravens at Browns, 1

Line/OU: Ravens by 5½; 42½

The RG3 era in Cleveland might already be over — and if it is, he completed the Browns quarterback hat trick of offering brief optimism, losing and being injured. With Josh McCown set to start this week (25th starting QB for team since '99), the Browns will have had at least two starting QBs in a season for a record-setting 15th consecutive year. Ravens are 14-2 against Browns under John Harbaugh, though past six games have been decided by average of 5.8 points.

49ers at Panthers, 1

Line/OU: Panthers by 13½; 45½

San Francisco had the most lopsided victory of Week 1, beating the Rams 28-0, yet the 49ers find themselves heavy underdogs in Week 2. The NFL is hard. Regardless of the pessimism that the 49ers can keep up that hot start against a well-oiled machine like the Panthers, coach Chip Kelly has certainly engendered more excitement than the team has seen since Jim Harbaugh's penultimate season with the team.

Seahawks at Rams, 4

Line/OU: Seahawks by 6; 37½

The NFL holds its first regular-season game in Los Angeles since Christmas Eve in 1994. Built around a stellar defensive line, and not much else, the Rams had the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, but have yet to see any returns. Jared Goff was not active in Week 1 and is not expected to play any time soon after a difficult preseason. Holding space for Goff is Case Keenum, who was atrocious in a Week 1 loss to the 49ers. The Seahawks outclass the Rams in talent, thought that did not stop the Rams from winning both of their matchups last season. Seattle QB Russell Wilson had his ankle crushed last week, but if his mobility is intact, it is hard to see a way the Rams win.

Falcons at Raiders, 4:25

Line/OU: Raiders by 4½; 48

Playing on the road last week, the Raiders offense kept up in a shootout with Saints' Drew Brees. Then, with the game on the line, coach Jack Del Rio let it all ride on a winning two-point conversion rather than settling for a tie and overtime. Raiders seek third 2-0 start since move back to Oakland in 1995. Falcons won past three meetings, outscoring Raiders 82-30.

Colts at Broncos, 4:25

Line/OU: Broncos by 7; 47

After a great deal of criticism for how lenient the officials were with illegal hits in Denver's Week 1 win over the Panthers, there will be much scrutiny of how its game is called this week. Should that detract from the aggressiveness of Denver's front seven, then Andrew Luck might be able to continue his re-emergence as a star after a year lost to injury and ineffectiveness. Colts have won eight of past nine against Denver, including 24-13 win on Jan. 11, 2014 in playoff game. With 16 wins, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak needs one to pass Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (1993-94) for seventh on team's all-time head coaching wins list.

Jaguars at Chargers, 4:25

Line/OU: Chargers by 3; 47½

The Chargers have had a lot of success against the Jaguars in recent years, but with Jacksonville's offense carrying over its progress from last season, and San Diego looking at spending the entire season without top WR Keenan Allen, it could finally be time to turn the tables.

Packers at Vikings, 8:30

Line/OU: Packers by 1½; 43

Having had enough of the team's temporary outdoor home, the Vikings head back inside, and will host the Packers in the regular-season debut of U.S. Bank Stadium. Giving their division rival a loss and ruining the opening of its stadium sounds like something that would appeal to Aaron Rodgers and his Packers teammates. Green Bay is 5-1 in past six road games vs. Vikings. After Shaun Hill started at QB for Vikings in opener, newcomer Sam Bradford expected to take over.

Eagles at Bears, 8:30 Monday

Line/OU: Bears by 3; 42½

Carson Wentz is one of only three rookies since 1960 to have at least 275 yards passing, two TDs and no INTs in season opener. Robert Griffin III in 2012 and Jim Kelly in 1986 were others. Wentz posted 101.0 passer rating, highest by Eagles rookie since Tampa's John Reaves (104.4) in 1972. WR Jordan Matthews has four straight games with at least 50 yards receiving and one TD. DT Fletcher Cox has five sacks in past five games. Bears' Jay Cutler got sacked five times and hit 13 more in opener. WR Alshon Jeffery aiming for fourth straight game with at least 100 yards or TD catch.

Times wires

Comments
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Published: 05/26/18
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