Kickoff: 7:20 p.m. Central time Sunday
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, Florida
TV: NBC (Ch. 41), KCFX (101.1 FM)
Radio: WDAF (106.5 FM) in Kansas City
Line: Pick ‘em.
Jesse Newell’s prediction
The line swung from Chiefs favored by 2 1/2 to a pick ‘em late in the week, and health appears to be the biggest reason.
Tampa Bay could add back three receivers following last weekend’s 14-12 loss to Green Bay, as Mike Evans returns from suspension and Chris Godwin and Julio Jones rejoined practice this past week off injuries.
It’s hard to overstate the importance. Tom Brady’s strength this year is what it usually is: getting the ball out of his hand quickly (his 2.22-second average throwing time is quickest among all NFL starting QBs).
However, that strategy is thrown off when the receivers aren’t playmakers. It’s why — in one week — we could see dramatic improvement from the Bucs, who at worst won’t have to super-glue together a receiving corps and at best will find themselves back to having one of the league’s best 1-2-3 punches on the outside.
Defensively, the Bucs have been outstanding thus far. The front has been good, but the secondary has been dominant, posting off-the-charts Pro Football Focus grades in coverage skills and tackling. The Chiefs’ receivers already had issues shaking off defensive backs last week against Indianapolis, and that challenge certainly won’t get easier this week.
Tampa Bay has some weak spots on the offensive line. The potential is there for the Chiefs’ Chris Jones to have a big day, though he’ll be racing a constant timer: Brady’s quick-fire ways often make it difficult for defensive linemen to turn individual wins into steady production.
This appears to be a tough spot on the road for the Chiefs, especially with a pair of offensive linemen playing at less than 100%. If KC can’t get the run going, it’ll likely need some big plays in the passing game, as sustained drives have been few and far between for opponents going up against Tampa Bay’s secondary.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, especially when it’d be easy to have trust issues with his O-line; a few early pressures against Indianapolis left him constantly breaking the pocket later in the game.
The Chiefs were lucky to face a wounded Chargers team two weeks ago, but this seems to be the opposite. Tampa Bay will be getting many of its guys back for this crucial contest, while also dodging a hurricane to keep this one in a true home setting at Raymond James Stadium.
Give me the Bucs in a bounce-back effort.
Buccaneers 28, Chiefs 20
Jesse’s pick to cover spread: Tampa Bay
This year’s record vs. spread: 1-2