Wednesday, December 13, 2017

NFL Week 13

49ers (8-2-1) at Rams (4-6-1)

1 p.m.

49ers by 7½, 40½

Not sure what to think of 49ers coach Jim Har­baugh's quarterback decision. He's sticking with Colin Kaepernick, above, despite solid starter Alex Smith being cleared after a concussion. Smith is admittedly upset. Teammates likely don't know what to think. Kaepernick played well, but so, too, has Smith. The bottom line? This team better not lose focus on what matters, like today's game against a team it tied last month. Not the time for distractions.

49ers 23, Rams 20

Texans (10-1) at Titans (4-7)

1 p.m.

Texans by 6½, 47

The Titans have allowed a combined 68 points over their past two games despite having the likely defensive player of the year in DE J.J. Watt and a secondary that's quite good. Thing is, Houston won both games. It did need a break against Detroit with a botched call that led to RB Justin Forsett's touchdown. But against Tennessee, it will need no such luck. Watch out for Arian Foster, above, who is really starting to heat up and leads the NFL with 12 rushing touchdowns.

Texans 31, Titans 20

Steelers (6-5) at Ravens (9-2)

4:25 p.m., Ch. 10

Ravens by 8, 35

If injured QB Ben Roethlisberger doesn't make it back soon, you have to start having serious doubts about the Steelers' playoff hopes. He won't play today, meaning the Ravens, with Joe Flacco, above, have a decisive edge at the most important position. That said, Baltimore's defense isn't good enough for the offense to be inconsistent. Plus, against this Pittsburgh defense, there probably won't be many fourth-and-29 conversions, unlike last week at the Chargers.

Ravens 21, Steelers 17

Browns (3-8) at Raiders (3-8)

4:25 p.m.

Browns by 2, 38½

This probably isn't in contention for anyone's game of the week, but we will be subjected to it anyway. Maybe something really unusual will happen, like the Browns winning on the road or the Raiders defense — which has given up 127 points over the past three games — actually, you know, stopping someone. Look for Browns rookie RB Trent Richardson, above, to have a nice day against the team that allowed 251 rushing yards to Tampa Bay's Doug Martin.

Browns 26, Raiders 23

Bengals (6-5) at Chargers (4-7)

4:25 p.m.

Bengals by 2, 46

The Bengals are quietly making a push for a second straight playoff berth. They've won three straight, and none were close. This is a tougher assignment given the length of the road trip and the fact San Diego's talent is not reflective of its record. But the Chargers seem like they've checked out, and the Bengals' momentum is real. Cincinnati has balance with QB Andy Dalton, above, playing efficiently and RB Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis moving the chains.

Bengals 24, Chargers 20

Giants (7-4) at Redskins (5-6)

8:30 Monday, ESPN

Giants by 2½, 51

The last time these clubs met, it took a 77-yard touchdown catch-and-run by WR Victor Cruz with less than two minutes left for the Giants to squeak out a victory. This time, playing in Washington and with playoff hopes still flickering, the Redskins look to finish the deal. Thing is, something tells me the Giants defense will adjust and won't let QB Robert Griffin III run for 89 yards like it did in the first meeting. Can RB Alfred Morris, above, offset that?

Giants 27, Redskins 23

Eagles (3-8) at Cowboys (5-6)

8:20 p.m., Ch. 8

Cowboys by 10½, 43

Look, the Cowboys have issues. Such as their lack of a running game and the 15 interceptions thrown by Tony Romo, above. But the Cowboys aren't nearly as dysfunctional as the Eagles are right now. They're firing assistants and cutting Pro Bowl defensive ends. Pretty soon, there will be nothing left to do besides blow the whole thing up. Eagles QB Michael Vick and RB LeSean McCoy are out again with concussions. To which I say: Does it even matter?

Cowboys 29, Eagles 21

Jaguars (2-9) at Bills (4-7)

1 p.m.

Bills by 6, 44½

After what QB Chad Henne has done over the past two games (615 yards, six touchdowns), this pick really requires some thought. The Jaguars have been more productive on offense over those two games than at any point this season, and that's a huge indictment of 2011 first-round pick and former starter Blaine Gabbert. Still, given this is on the road and the Jaguars have the 31st-ranked defense, they seem unlikely to stop RB C.J. Spiller, above, and the Bills' play­makers.

Bills 26, Jaguars 23

Seahawks (6-5) at Bears (8-3)

1 p.m.

Bears by 3½, 37½

Both teams have remarkable defenses. But which offense can better handle the opposing defense? The Bears are plenty capable, except they've shown they can't protect QB Jay Cutler from even the slightest pass rush. Don't underestimate the impact of Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch, above. Over the past three games, Arian Foster (Texans), Frank Gore (49ers) and Adrian Peterson (Vikings) have combined for 288 rushing yards against Chicago.

S'hawks 23, Bears 21

Colts (7-4) at Lions (4-7)

1 p.m.

Lions by 6, 51½

The Lions' slow start left them practically out of any reasonable playoff conversation with five games left. You almost wonder what ownership thinks of the job coach Jim Schwartz, above, has done. He's one of only two remaining hires from the 2009 class of new coaches (Jets' Rex Ryan), and this season has not been good for the resume. But with the likes of QB Matt Stafford, WR Calvin Johnson and DT Ndamukong Suh, they have the talent to pull this one out.

Lions 29, Colts 24

Vikings (6-5) at Packers (7-4)

1 p.m.

Packers by 8½, 46

That was quite the stinker for the Packers last week against the Giants. After all, when was the last time you saw Green Bay lose by 28 points? But when you can't protect QB Aaron Rodgers, above, and you play teams with good pass rushers (such as the Giants), bad things happen. The Vikings have their own top-notch pass rusher in DE Jared Allen, but either the Packers are going to turn it on or they're not. Giving them the benefit of the doubt — for now.

Packers 24, Vikings 18

Panthers (3-8) at Chiefs (1-10)

1 p.m.

Panthers by 3, 40½

The Chiefs defense is not as bad as their record suggests, considering the offense can't sustain drives and the poor excuse for quarterbacks. LB Justin Houston (nine sacks) will be a pain in the rear for Cam Newton, above, and the pass defense is solid, too. Just consider that the Broncos had to pull off a second-half rally behind Peyton Manning to win at Arrowhead last week. Still, the Chiefs' woeful offense and minus-21 turnover margin seem insurmountable.

Panthers 23, Chiefs 21

Cardinals (4-7) at Jets (4-7)

1 p.m.

Jets by 5, 37

As much as the Jets are a disaster, the Cardinals might be the bigger train wreck. They seemingly are on their 17th starting quarterback with a rookie sixth-round pick named Ryan Lindley, above, now under center. And Arizona lost another offensive lineman last week from a unit that's already among the league's worst. If the Jets show up, just maybe embattled coach Rex Ryan can keep fans and the New York media machine at bay — for this week, at least.

Jets 26, Cardinals 20

Patriots (8-3) at Dolphins (5-6)

1 p.m., Ch. 10

Patriots by 7½, 51½

The Patriots have quietly won five straight, and the only thing preventing them from sweeping their AFC East competition is two games against the Dolphins. New England faces the Texans and 49ers in the next two weeks, so now is the time to handle its business. We know QB Tom Brady is having his requisite big season, but not enough credit goes to Stevan Ridley, above. He's the NFL's seventh-leading rusher and is keeping defenses honest.

Patriots 31, Dolphins 20

Is Alex Colome telling us something about Rays’ plans with his Instagram account?

Is Alex Colome telling us something about Rays’ plans with his Instagram account?

Closer Alex Colome was not traded by the Rays to the Cardinals on Tuesday night.But he appeared to be either prepping for or having some fun with the possibility.On his alexcolome37 verified Instagram account, Colome started following the Cardinals o...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Boys basketball: St. Petersburg 62, Countryside 61

CLEARWATER – St. Petersburg already had Serrel Smith, an Ole Miss signee who is the reigning Pinellas County player of the year.The lineup became even better in the summer with the addition of Tampa Catholic transfers Tai and Terrell Strickland...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 2 – with some news

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 2 – with some news

UPDATE, 8:45: Tommy Hunter parlayed his solid 2017 season with the Rays into a two-year deal with the Phillies.UPDATE, 7:13: Unexpected sighting in the meetings lobby: Luke Scott, who looked in great shape at 39 and is at least talking about playing ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
The Bucs’ problem isn’t how they finish; it’s how they start

The Bucs’ problem isn’t how they finish; it’s how they start

For the second straight week, the Buccaneers had the ball in the final minutes of a tie game.For the second straight week, they could not finish.As disappointing as that might be, they have a larger problem, and one that has existed all season: The B...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Despite injury, Gerald McCoy wants to play this season

Despite injury, Gerald McCoy wants to play this season

Even dealing with a biceps injury and his Bucs at 4-9, Gerald McCoy isn't giving up on playing this season."I'm a fighter," McCoy said Tuesday night. "Y'all know me. I don't quit. I give it everything I have. Even the slightest possibility of being a...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

ST. LOUIS — This showdown was supposed to be about the best team in the East versus the best in the West. In reality, the Lightning’s 3-0 win over the Blues on Tuesday night pretty much came down to this:Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs’ defensive line surprises families with Christmas spree

Bucs’ defensive line surprises families with Christmas spree

The West Club at Raymond James Stadium was packed on Tuesday night with 75 needy local families who thought they were getting a holiday dinner and stadium tour with Bucs players.The defensive line stepped up to give the families a much bigger surpris...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Lightning-Blues

Andrei Vasilevskiy might have made the save of the year. With the Lightning leading by one midway through the second, an Alex Steen dump-in took a wild carom off the boards. Vasilevskiiy somehow sprawled out for a right-toe save. Then, on his back, V...
Updated: 7 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Dec. 12

Tuesday’s scoreboardGirls soccerCountryside 5, Tarpon Springs 0Palm Harbor U. 8, Alonso 0Boys soccerShorecrest 2, Indian Rocks Chr. 0Palm Harbor U. 3, Alonso 0Girls basketballNortheast 65, Dixie Hollins 25...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Leonard makes season debut in Spurs defeat

Leonard makes season debut in Spurs defeat

DALLAS — Spurs star Kawhi Leonard made his season debut Tuesday night, getting the start in a 95-89 loss at Dallas after missing 27 games with a quadriceps injury. Leonard has been recovering from right quadriceps tendinopathy, a condition that cause...
Updated: 8 hours ago