Saturday, November 18, 2017

NFL Week 12


Raiders (3-7) at Bengals (5-5)

1 p.m.

Bengals by 8½, 50½

It's hard to tell whether the Bengals are a real threat in the AFC playoff race, but they've won their past two games by a combined score of 59-19. Today, they face their former QB, Carson Palmer, above, now the starter in Oakland. He might throw for some decent yardage, but the Oakland defense will give up the costlier plays. The Raiders have yielded eight pass plays of 40 yards or longer this season. Bengals WR A.J. Green has five all by himself.

Bengals 29, Raiders 20

Steelers (6-4) at Browns (2-8)

1 p.m., Ch. 10

Steelers by 1, 34½

The Browns' record doesn't inspire one to pick them to win any game, much less one against a division rival. But the Steelers' quarterback situation coupled with the Browns' ability to keep games close this season even the playing field a bit. Charlie Batch, above, starts for Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich injured. Can the Steelers adjust their offense to quicker throws? Because Batch is immobile and the Browns can rush the passer.

Steelers 17, Browns 16

Bills (4-6) at Colts (6-4)

1 p.m.

Colts by 3, 51

That 59-24 loss by the Colts to the Patriots last week was ugly. There is no arguing that. But keep a few things in perspective: The Patriots scored three touchdowns off turnovers, and rookie QB Andrew Luck had, arguably, his worst game. If the Colts can buy into the theory it was worse than it looked, then they can ride their slightly superior talent to a win. This, however, is contingent on the defense limiting Buffalo's playmakers, namely RB C.J. Spiller, above.

Colts 27, Bills 23

Broncos (7-3) at Chiefs (1-9)

1 p.m.

Broncos by 10½, 44

The Broncos aim for their sixth straight win, and there doesn't seem to be a reason why they won't get it. Instead, let's talk about a subplot: QB Peyton Manning, above, can surpass team executive John Elway for the NFL's second-most regular-season wins as a starter. Manning also is 25 yards shy of his 14th 3,000-yard season, which would be second all time. Obviously, the guy has a place reserved in Canton. Should we just enshrine him now?

Broncos 31, Chiefs 16

Titans (4-6) at Jaguars (1-9)

1 p.m.

Titans by 4, 44½

This one isn't in the running for game of the week, but we were intrigued by the performance of Jaguars QB Chad Henne, above, last week. The Jaguars might be moving on from 2011 first-round pick Blaine Gabbert, who's out for the season. Is it possible this team's problems were mostly a product of Gabbert? The valiant effort in the overtime loss at Houston suggests that's possible. Still, Tennessee's bye week could be the difference here.

Titans 23, Jaguars 20

Ravens (8-2) at Chargers (4-6)

4 p.m.

Ravens by 1, 47

The Chargers have lost five of their past six games, and they're running out of time to not only make a playoff push, but avoid far-reaching changes in the organization during the offseason. Can they scratch and claw their way to an upset here? Here's how it happens: The Chargers make this a shootout, and if QB Philip Rivers, above, can protect the ball, the Ravens have exploitable weaknesses on defense. Can the Chargers make them pay? We'll see.

Chargers 24, Ravens 22

Rams (3-6-1) at Cardinals (4-6)

4:25 p.m.

Cardinals by 1½, 37

The Rams last won on Oct. 4, the Cardinals on Sept. 30. So odds are at least someone will get in the win column for a change. We think it will be the Rams, which is more an indictment of the Cardinals than a vote of confidence in St. Louis. The Cardinals cycle through quarterbacks like socks, and the Rams are a capable pass-rushing team. DEs Robert Quinn and Chris Long, above, are a bad matchup for Arizona's poor excuse for an offensive line.

Rams 24, Cardinals 17

49ers (7-2-1) at Saints (5-5)

4:25 p.m., Ch. 13

49ers by 1, 49

Even the folks in Vegas had a hard time picking this game. Us, too. Here's what we know: It's one thing for 49ers second-year QB Colin Kaepernick, above, to beat Bears backup Jason Campbell, who ran for his life Monday night. It's quite another to beat Drew Brees at his place, the raucous Superdome. New Orleans is going to have a lot to say about the outcome of the NFC playoff picture. The Saints have won five of six and are heating up.

Saints 26, 49ers 23

Packers (7-3) at Giants (6-4)

8:20 p.m., Ch. 8

Giants by 3, 50½

If momentum means anything, and in the NFL it usually does, there's too much here to ignore. The Packers have won five straight and look like the favorite in the North. The momentum applies in particular at quarterback. Green Bay's, Aaron Rodgers, above, is sizzling. New York's, Eli Manning, has no touchdowns and three interceptions over his past two games (both losses). By the way, why do the Giants seem to have a mini-tailspin every season?

Packers 27, Giants 23

Panthers (2-8) at Eagles (3-7)

8:30 Monday, ESPN

Panthers by 3, 40½

These clubs deserve each other. About the only team more disappointing than the Panthers is the Eagles. The Panthers will make life tough for rookie QB Nick Foles, above. They have a for-real pass rush — to which the Bucs can attest — including DE Charles Johnson. The Eagles defense has been so dreadful recently, you have to assume Cam Newton will be a factor. If he can make a handful of big plays, it will be enough to beat this hapless team.

Panthers 28, Eagles 23

Vikings (6-4) at Bears (7-3)

1 p.m.

Bears by 7, 39½

The big unknown is the status of Bears QB Jay Cutler (concussion) because it appears only he can win in spite of their embarrassing offensive line. The Bears demoted one lineman (Gabe Carimi) and saw another (Chilo Rachal) go AWOL after he, too, was benched. If the Bears don't get a yeoman's effort from their defense against RB Adrian Peterson, above, it might not matter who plays quarterback. The NFC North is tight, making this a huge game.

Bears 20, Vikings 17

Seahawks (6-4) at Dolphins (4-6)

1 p.m.

Seahawks by 3, 37½

After the troubles Miami had moving the ball against Buffalo last week, it seems Seattle's formidable defense can rise above the loooong trip east and shut Miami down with its pass rush and coverage ability. The Seahawks have good pass rushers, including Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons. And they have CB Richard Sherman, above. He was named NFC defensive player of the week last week after an interception, sack and forced fumble.

Seahawks 23, Dolphins 17

Bucs-Dolphins: Things to watch in Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

Bucs-Dolphins: Things to watch in Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

TAMPA — Can the Bucs pull off back-to-back wins with a backup quarterback? Win a game on the road for the first time this season? Politely hand the unnamed trophy for the state’s worst football team back to the Dolphins?Mike Evans is back from his su...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Red-hot Lightning leading NHL in more than wins

Nikita Kucherov, top left, celebrates with teammate Steven Stamkos (91) after scoring against Florida Panthers goalie James Reimer. [AP photo]The Lightning (15-2-2) enters tonight’s game against the visiting Islanders (10-6-2) leading the leagu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs’ belief Jameis Winston has been shaken

Bucs’ belief Jameis Winston has been shaken

TAMPA — Belief is the biggest attribute a quarterback can bring to his team. Belief in his talent. Belief in his commitment to winning. Belief in his ability to bring everyone together and have his voice lead the path forward.But the belief the Bucs ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Gerald McCoy or Ndamukong Suh: Who would you rather have?

Gerald McCoy or Ndamukong Suh: Who would you rather have?

In the crowd-pleasing sports-talk of game of "Who Would You Rather Have?’’ there might not be a more perfect match-up than this.Gerald McCoy vs. Ndamukong Suh.Both are defensive tackles. Both went to, what were at the time, Big 12 schools. Both were ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

TAMPA — In the spring of 2010, one of the biggest debates the week leading up to the NFL draft was which defensive tackle would be selected first? Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy.Both figured to be highly productive NFL players. S...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs-Dolphins preview

Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs-Dolphins preview

Greg Auman has a final preview of Sunday’s Bucs-Dolphins game in Miami in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.He talks about key matchups to watch for, from perhaps the NFL’s best slot receiver in Jarvis Landry, to Miami’s vulnerabilities at right tackl...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Region football: Plant 22, Viera 18

Region football: Plant 22, Viera 18

MELBOURNE — With 1 yard separating Plant from an incredible come-from-behind victory, or a devastating defeat, it all came down to a matter of trust.And for Panthers coach Robert Weiner, there was no one he would put more faith in to get that 1 yard ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Fennelly: If this is true, Jameis Winston is done in this town

Fennelly: If this is true, Jameis Winston is done in this town

TAMPA — Why should we believe this man?Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is being investigated by the NFL concerning an allegation of him groping a female Uber driver in Scottsdale, Ariz., in March 2016.Winston denied the allegations Friday in a statem...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Region football: Clearwater Central Catholic 37, Calvary Christian 10

CLEARWATER — The ice bath ensued for Clearwater Central Catholic coach Chris Harvey after the Marauders’ 37-10 victory over Calvary Christian in Friday’s Class 3A region final. The win placed the Marauders (11-0) in their fifth state tournament since...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17
Region football: Armwood 22, Hillsborough 0

Region football: Armwood 22, Hillsborough 0

SEFFNER — Hillsborough conquered one nemesis with last week’s win over Class 6A defending state finalist Lake Gibson, the team that knocked the Terriers out of the playoffs in the first round a year ago.But there was an even bigger stumbling block to...
Published: 11/17/17