Redskins

Vikes can establish credibility vs Bucs

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Vikes can establish credibility vs Bucs

NEW YORK (AP) Considering the short list of surprisingly impressive teams in the NFL this season, the Minnesota Vikings haven't gotten much love. That could change Thursday night.

The Vikings weren't included in many TV plans after they went 3-13 last year and looked like a sure tail-ender in the rugged NFC North in 2012. Instead, they are 5-2, trailing the 5-1 Bears and ahead of - yes, ahead of - the Packers.

Yet their vast improvement hasn't moved the fan and media meter too much; even the Lions, who have been abysmal for much of the season and own the cellar in the division are getting more attention.

So when Minnesota (No. 10 in the AP Pro32) hosts Tampa Bay (No. 26) on the NFL Network showcase game, it's an opportunity for the 6 1/2-point favorite to establish some credibility across the nation.

``It feels good when you're under the radar, you're not really talked about, and then you start winning,'' star running back Adrian Peterson said. ``So that's always good. You've just got to continue to keep the focus. That's what it comes down to.

``It feels good. I'm sure a lot of guys, including myself, will be excited to get out there. It's the only game playing, so people will be tuned in and ready to see some good football.''

In Greg Schiano's first season as coach of the Bucs (2-4), the results have been inconsistent. They've produced on offense in half their games, been a dud with the ball in the other three. The defense ranks third in yardage against the run, mainly because Tampa Bay is next-to-last in pass defense.

``Again, we're sitting here, what are we, 2-4 now? And we're saying this old song and dance. That's the way it is,'' Schiano said. ``Until we get it changed, until we find a way to change it, close but no cigar.''

The Vikings will be lighting up on Thursday night.

VIKINGS, 27-19

No. 29 Carolina (plus 8) at No. 5 Chicago

Turmoil in Charlotte, relative calm in Chicago.

BEST BET: BEARS, 30-14

No. 11 Seattle (plus 2) at No. 21 Detroit

Rested Seahawks will motor after Matthew Stafford for lots of sacks.

UPSET SPECIAL: SEAHAWKS, 24-20

No. 32 Jacksonville (OFF) at No. 6 Green Bay

Would have been BEST BET if there was a line.

PACKERS, 37-10

No. 2 New York Giants (minus 1) at No. 15 Dallas

Giants are 3-0 at Jerry's Palace. Riding with the champs.

GIANTS, 34-27

No. 7 New England (minus 7) vs. No. 23 St. Louis at London

Rams owner also owns EPL's Arsenal, which plays near Wembley. Won't help ...

PATRIOTS, 27-16

No. 13 Washington (plus 5) at No. 12 Pittsburgh

Steelers getting healthy, Redskins aren't. RG3 keeps it tight.

STEELERS, 21-17

No. 1 Atlanta (plus 2) at No. 14 Philadelphia

Andy Reid's teams don't lose after byes (13-0). First defeat for Falcons.

EAGLES, 23-20

No. 4 San Francisco (minus 7) at No. 19 Arizona, Monday night

Cardinals need to stop their slide now. Couldn't have a worse opponent for doing so.

49ERS, 23-13

No. 17 New Orleans (plus 6 1/2) at No. 9 Denver

Drew Brees against Peyton Manning. Go with the team that can play some defense.

BRONCOS, 38-37

No. 16 San Diego (minus 3) at No. 31 Cleveland

About only team Chargers would be road favorite against.

CHARGERS, 20-19

No. 24 Indianapolis (plus 3 1/2) at No. 25 Tennessee

Really like what's going on with Colts. Like what Titans are doing even more.

TITANS, 26-20

No. 18 Miami (plus 2) at No. 20 New York Jets

Logic says go with rested Dolphins. With our record against spread, logic doesn't matter.

JETS, 17-14

No. 28 Oakland (plus 1) at No. 31 Kansas City

Oh for the days of the AFL, when both franchises were praiseworthy.

CHIEFS, 19-17

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2012 RECORD:

Against spread: 5-7-1 (40-61-3). Straight up: 9-4 (59-45)

Best Bet: 3-3-1 against spread, 6-1 straight up.

Upset special: 4-3 against spread, 3-4 straight up.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.