SCOUTING THE NFC SOUTH
WR Julio Jones still ranks among the league's top receivers, but his status has taken a bit of a hit. He has gone the past seven games without a touchdown catch. That's the longest stretch of his career. Jones hasn't reached the end zone since his two-touchdown game against the Bucs in Week 3. Jones will try to rebound this week, even though he was sidelined from practice with the flu. "It's been kind of difficult," WR Roddy White told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "Going through plays and stuff, we've got people moving around. He's just got to get healthy."...
GAMES OF THE WEEK
Lions at Patriots, 1 | Patriots by 7, 48
In back-to-back games, New England has earned double-digit wins over Peyton Manning's Broncos and Andrew Luck's Colts to establish itself as the team to beat in the AFC. And the Patriots did it last week because of unknown RB Jonas Gray (four rushing TDs). But Detroit's defense is much tougher to crack. The Lions have allowed only three quarterbacks to throw for at least 300 yards, and only two running backs have rushed for at least 60 this year. Matt Baker's pick: Patriots, 24-21...
Dallas running back DeMarco Murray has already rushed for more than 1,000 yards and continues to make a run at the eighth 2,000-yard season in NFL history.
As Murray charges toward history, the rest of the league's running backs have struggled to catch up.
Through Week 11, Murray is one of only 10 backs who are on pace to cross the 1,000-yard milestone. That would be the lowest total since 1994....
TAMPA — Before the season began, Bucs coach Lovie Smith was envisioning his team's offense with running back Doug Martin firmly entrenched as the bell-cow ball carrier.
Then injuries happened to Martin, first to a knee, then to an ankle, sidelining the former Pro Bowl player for five of the first 10 games.
But Martin looked healthy running off the practice field Friday and was expected to return to action Sunday in Chicago, leaving the coaching staff with some of the toughest roster decisions it has had to make....
TAMPA — LB Lavonte David missed Thursday's practice with a sore hamstring, Bucs coach Lovie Smith said.
The league's co-leader in combined tackles (116) was limited in Wednesday's practice, and Smith said the team was taking every precaution with David, an All-Pro selection last season.
"Lavonte hasn't missed a practice since I've been here," Smith said. "That in itself is news. He normally bounces back fairly quick."...
TAMPA – Defensive end Michael Johnson has been playing through a broken hand, Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said Thursday....
Tonight: Chiefs at Raiders
When/where: 8:25; O.co Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.
TV/radio: NFL Network; 1010-AM (joined in progress on 98.7-FM)
Line/OU: Chiefs by 7½; 42½
Oakland's 16-game losing streak is the fourth longest in NFL history. The Raiders (0-10) already have been eliminated from playoff contention. It's hard to imagine tonight being the streak stopper. The Chiefs have won five in a row, and the league's best statistical passing defense could be a problem for rookie quarterback Derek Carr....
TAMPA — After piling up 209 receiving yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's win at Washington, Bucs rookie WR Mike Evans was named the NFC offensive player of the week.
"I'm grateful for the award, and I'm happy that my performance helped the team get a win," Evans said.
Evans is the third Bucs rookie to win the honor, following RB Doug Martin in 2012 and RB Warrick Dunn in 1997. ...
TAMPA — Coach Lovie Smith doesn't expect a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation to linger around the Bucs past Sunday's brief airport stop.
"No distraction at all, at any level," Smith said Monday. "It's a non-issue with us. I'm sure they had their reasons for carrying out those searches — throughout the league, I might add. For us, it's kind of on to Chicago."...
11/16/14 Auto racing
HOMESTEAD — Tony Stewart capped off a disappointing year with an all-and-nothing day.
Stewart finished last as a driver but enjoyed victory circle as the co-owner for race and series champion Kevin Harvick.
"I think more than anything, I'm happy for this organization and happy for this team," Stewart said. "It's not about me right now. It's about us as a group."
Harvick's championship was the second for Stewart-Haas Racing — Stewart won one as a driver/owner in 2011. Stewart called the victory a "game changer" for Harvick, who had been regarded as one of the best drivers without a series title....
11/16/14 Auto racing
HOMESTEAD — When NASCAR changed its championship format, it didn't have in mind scenes like Saturday night: Kevin Harvick, drained from nine pressure-packed races, falling asleep during the Florida State-Miami game.
What the sport envisioned with its revamped Chase to the Sprint Cup was more like what happened Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway: a drama-filled shootout among the final four championship contenders....
MIAMI — Florida State center Cameron Erving stopped himself midway through his answer about personnel changes if the Seminoles make the college football playoff.
"If?" Erving asked.
Among Las Vegas oddsmakers and the playoff committee, "if" remains in play, even after the defending national champion extended the nation's longest winning streak to 26 games with Saturday night's 30-26 come-from-behind win over Miami....
MIAMI — Midway through the third quarter at Sun Life Stadium, No. 2 Florida State found itself in a much too familiar position — trailing, with the nation's longest winning streak at stake.
"We needed a break, you know?" quarterback Jameis Winston said.
And they got one, off the hands of Miami defensive end Tyriq McCord.
The Jefferson High alum batted Winston's third-down pass and into the arms of Karlos Williams, whose touchdown helped turn a 16-point deficit into a 30-26 FSU win over the Hurricanes on Saturday night. ...
MIAMI — No. 2 Florida State crossed off one of its preseason goals before Saturday night's game against the Hurricanes started.
With No. 18 Clemson's 28-6 loss at Georgia Tech in the afternoon, the Seminoles clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title and a spot in the conference title game in Charlotte, N.C.
FSU is guaranteed a third consecutive appearance in the conference title game and its fourth in the past five seasons. The Seminoles have won the past two ACC titles and have won the league 14 times in program history....