SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Bucs lead the all-time series, 6-5. They have won the last four contests. The Bucs last met the Chiefs in 2012 and won 38-10. One of the most memorable games came in 2008, when Jon Gruden's team overcame a 24-3 deficit to win 30-27 in OT. In '93, Joe Montana made his Chiefs debut with a 27-3 win at Tampa Stadium.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
The Chiefs have won five straight overall and their last 10 home games. To push those streaks to six and 11, Kansas City must find fire and production from the offense.
The Chiefs are winning on the backs of their defense and kicking game. They need quarterback Alex Smith, running back Spencer Ware and pass catchers Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley and Jeremy Maclin to find the end zone, convert third downs and hit big plays. So far in the 2016 season, K.C. has just 30 plays of 20 yards or more, while the Tampa Bay defense has given up 43 plays of that length.
The Bucs will try to run the football against the Chiefs, who are 28th against the run but thrive rushing the passer and defending the pass. Bucs RB Doug Martin returned to the lineup for the first time since Week 2 and looked rusty in Week 10, but he did score a touchdown. The Bucs expect his timing and toughness to be much better now that he has a few carries and has tested that hamstring.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston has done a better job of protecting the football of late, with 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions in his last five games.
Defensively, the Bucs used more blitzes to pressure Bears QB Jay Cutler last week and provided tighter coverage. But Smith, the Chiefs' QB, unloads the football quickly and is a threat to run.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Buccaneers WR Mike Evans vs. Chiefs CBs Marcus Peters, Phillip Gaines and Steven Nelson. Evans enters the week ranked No. 6 among NFL receivers with 811 yards and fifth with 59 receptions. No other NFL receiver has been targeted more than Evans -- his 108 targets have been 31 percent of Tampa Bay's attempts. He's tied for the league lead with eight touchdown catches and 18 third-down catches for 278 yards. The numbers for the Chiefs' pass defense are also among the league's best. Peters is tied for the league lead with five interceptions, and the Chiefs lead the NFL with 13 interceptions in nine games. No matter which side of the formation Evans lines up on, the Chiefs must find a way to slow Evans' roll.
--Chiefs RB Spencer Ware vs. Buccaneers LBs Lavonte David and Daryl Smith. Ware has been the engine of the Chiefs' offense in both the run game and the passing attack. His 896 yards on 135 touches rank him No. 9 in the league. It's not just production; it's the way Ware runs the ball that sets a tone for Kansas City. He's a power back without the bulk, and his style fires up teammates. With 46 tackles this season, David is very good at stopping plays behind the line of scrimmage -- 11 tackles for loss. He also has forced two fumbles. Playing the strong side, Smith has 23 tackles, three for loss, and an interception. Whether it's a sweep, or Ware runs straight ahead and breaks it off to either side, keeping Ware from cracking the edge is a must for the Bucs.
Chiefs OLB Dee Ford. With 10 sacks in nine games, Ford is tied for the league lead. He has six in the last three games. Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston is a pocket passer and has been sacked 22 times this season -- 10th most among league quarterbacks. In the Buccaneers' wins, they have allowed one sack per game. In their losses, they have given up almost three. Tampa Bay's offensive line has been dealing with injuries and that could be something that Ford can take advantage of.
Kansas City -- Out: WR Jeremy Maclin (groin). Doubtful: DE Jaye Howard (hip). Questionable: CB Phillip Gaines (neck), LB Justin Houston (knee), LB Derrick Johnson (hamstring), CB Marcus Peters (hip), DT Dontari Poe (knee), LS James Winchester (not injury related).
Bucs QB Jameis Winston played his 25th game as a pro last week and reached 6,391 passing yards. That is the fifth-highest tally through 25 games in NFL history. Winston has 11 touchdown passes and only two interceptions over his past five games, after beginning the season with eight of each through his first four starts.
Bucs TE Cameron Brate established career highs with seven receptions for 84 yards last week. His 375 receiving yards are the most for a player from Harvard, surpassing Kyle Juszczyk's 321 yards for Baltimore last season.
Chiefs TE Tyreek Hill caught 10 passes last week, the most ever by a K.C. rookie. Hill's 32 receptions are the most by any AFC rookie and third among all NFL first-year players.
The Chiefs scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Panthers 20-17 at Carolina last week. The victory was Kansas City's fifth in a row. At 7-2, the Chiefs are tied with Oakland atop the AFC West, just a half-game ahead of Denver (7-3).
The Bucs show promise but are not consistent. Meanwhile, the Chiefs are as consistent and hot as any team in the NFL and are atop the torrid AFC West.
OUR PICK: Chiefs, 36-21.