Jaguars at Buccaneers preview: Keys to the game and who will win

By Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange   |   Oct. 10, 2015 at 7:45 AM
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Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. - TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

*Keys to the game: The Jaguars rank 31st in the NFL with an average of 15.5 points per game, but there have been signed of life. It starts with rookie RB T.J. Yeldon, who is averaging a modest 3.7 yards per carry but has the makings of the workhorse the Jaguars have lacked since Maurice Jones-Drew's heyday. He'll take aim at a defense allowing 136.8 yards per game on the ground, although some of that can be chalked up Bucs opponents grinding out games they led from the outset. QB Blake Bortles is developing a nice rapport with WRs Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, and finally found TE Marcedes Lewis for the first time this season last week (five catches).

After throwing a pick-six on his first pass in each of his two home games, Bucs QB Jameis Winston's first task is to avoid the early turnovers that have put Tampa Bay in early holes. Winston has attributed his inconsistency to trying to shoulder too much of the offense, and he could use a follow-up performance from RB Doug Martin, who is coming off his first 100-yard game of the season. Jags coach Gus Bradley will devise ways to bring rushers from various angles in an effort to confuse Winston and pressure him into more mistakes. How Winston anticipates, and handles, the pressure will dictate the situation come the fourth quarter.

*Matchup to watch - Jaguars RT Jermey Parnell vs. Bucs DE Will Gholston: Gholston doesn't have a sack through four games and has only four total in 31 career NFL games, but he has replaced George Johnson on the left side as the Bucs attempt to upgrade their 30th-ranked run defense. Parnell got a five-year, $32 million deal from the Jags to leave Dallas and solidify the right side of the o-line.

*Player spotlight - Bucs CB Alterraun Verner: Signed to a four-year, $25.75 million contract in 2013, the 26-year-old has two interceptions in 18 games with Tampa Bay and spent time working with the nickel defense this week while Sterling Moore worked outside.

*Fast facts: Yeldon leads NFL rookies with 259 rushing yards and is coming off a career-high 105 at Indianapolis last week. ... Six of Winston's seven INTs on the season have come at home, where he has a 60.0 passer rating.


Something has to give as the Jaguars enter with an 11-game road losing streak while the Bucs have dropped their past 11 home games. The Bucs' Jameis Winston is experiencing the turnover woes Blake Bortles battled as a rookie last season, and the Jags' second-year signal caller is showing signs of real growth.

*Our pick: Jaguars 23-20.

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Kansas City Royals' Edinson Volquez knows tough match-up awaits in Houston

By The Sports Xchange   |   Oct. 10, 2015 at 4:48 AM
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez knows what is looming Sunday.

Volquez will start the American League Divisional Series Game 3 at Houston. The Astros will counter with left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who is 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA in 18 starts this season at Minute Maid Park.

"I'm the lucky one," Volquez said and smiled about the challenge of matching up with Keuchel.

Volquez faced a similar challenge last year with the Pirates, starting the wildcard game against the Giants, who started left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Volquez was the losing pitcher, allowing five runs on five hits over five innings, while Bumgarner shut out the Pirates to begin his historical 2014 postseason run.

"It's not a regular game," Volquez said of postseason games. "You can go crazy with it. You just have to find a way to pitch your own game."

Volquez is 5-5 with a 3.63 ERA in 18 road games this year, including 17 starts. He went 8-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 16 Kauffman Stadium starts. Volquez was 5-5 with a 3.82 ERA after the All-Star break.

The Royals have had some success against opposing aces this year, including beating Keuchel 5-1 on July 26 at Kansas City.

"That's good news," Volquez said. "We know we're going to face one of the best guys in the American League, in baseball. We're going to be ready for him, and I'm pretty sure he's going to be ready for us."

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