Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos (-9.5, 51)
The signing of Peyton Manning has reaped huge dividends for the Denver Broncos, who can wrap up their second straight AFC West title with a victory over the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Whereas the Broncos lost their final three last season in backing into the division title, Manning has guided them to six consecutive victories and into contention for a possible first-round bye in the postseason. The Buccaneers had their four-game winning streak snapped with last week's one-point home loss to Atlanta, but remain in a three-way tie with the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings for the final playoff spot in the NFC. Denver has not won seven straight since the 1998 season, when it won the second of back-to-back Super Bowl titles.
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX.
LINE: Broncos -9.5, O/U 51
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the mid-60s and sunny skies. Winds will blow out of the SSW at 5 mph.
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (6-5): Tampa Bay had rolled up an average of nearly 35 points during its four-game winning streak, but bogged down at critical moments in the 24-23 loss to the Falcons. Quarterback Josh Freeman failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season following a stretch of six straight games with multiple scoring passes. The Buccaneers also struggled in the running game, with rookie Doug Martin held to 50 yards on 21 carries following a four-game stretch in which he amassed 592 yards and five touchdowns. Tampa Bay's defense, which ranks last in the league against the pass (315.5 yards), lost CB Eric Wright to a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (8-3): Manning, the league's only four-time MVP, had 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions to insert himself into the conversation for the award once again after sitting out last season while undergoing multiple neck surgeries. Denver's running game got a huge jolt when oft-injured Knowshon Moreno came out of mothballs to rush for 85 yards on 20 carries in last week's 17-9 win at Kansas City. Moreno, a former first-round pick, had not played since Week 2 but filled the void left by the injury to Willis McGahee, who is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks. Linebacker Von Miller had eight sacks in four games in November, pushing his total to 14 and giving the Broncos a league-best 37.
* Buccaneers are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Broncos are 4-0 ATS in their last four Week 13 games.
* Over is 7-1 in Buccaneers’ last eight games overall.
* Buccaneers are 0-4 ATS in their last four December games.
1. Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas has gone over 100 yards in three of five home games.
2. Bucs wideouts Vincent Jackson (20.4) and Mike Williams (16.9) rank among the top five in the NFC in yards per catch.
3. Manning produced one of the greatest comebacks in league history against Tampa Bay in 2003, rallying Indianapolis from a 21-point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation for a 38-35 overtime win.