Why the Buccaneers needed Antonio Brown

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The Bucs are 5-2. They played close to a perfect game in dismantling Green Bay last week, then went to Las Vegas on Sunday and put up 45 on the men of Gruden. The last two weeks the Bucs of 2020 look like the in-stride Patriots of 2007, the team that clobbered good teams every week on the way to 16-0. And now, well, now the Bucs are inviting the fox into the henhouse.

“What,” I asked Bucs coach Bruce Arians, “was the thought process on bringing in Antonio Brown?”

“Injuries,” Arians said. “I mean, we got two Pro Bowl receivers [Mike Evans, Chris Godwin]. We went to Chicago with none of them, really. They were hurt. And here’s a guy that’s a Pro Bowl type player . . . We’re on the hook for nothing in this deal. He screws up one time, he’s gone. I don’t think he will because he wants to play.”

All three of the Bucs’ key wideouts—Evans, Godwin and smurfy tough sprinter Scotty Miller—are playing hurt. Arians asked all of them before Sunday’s game, “What percent are you physically—what do you think, 90, 95 percent?” Arians said Evans (ankle) said 80, Godwin (hamstring) said 80, and Miller (hip) said 85.

“They’re hurting,” Arians said, “they’re playing, but they’re nowhere near full speed. I think we can get better and better.”

More about the risk in signing Brown later in the column—I’ve seen this movie too often to think Antonio Brown is a smart signing by anyone—but in talking to Arians, he insisted on three things: It wasn’t Tom Brady’s call, his players are on board with it, and he will not allow Brown to derail the good things the Bucs have going.

Signing Brown could be a seminal moment for this franchise. It’s a classic deal with the devil. Women will be furious (many already are, and they should be) because of the abuse allegations Brown is currently fighting. The Bucs have this harmonious thing going on—you haven’t heard one skill player complain about not getting the ball enough, and Brown is a player who historically has demanded the football. (Rightfully so, really. He’s a great player.) And Brady fell for the guy in limited exposure to him last year in New England. So there are a lot of competing egos at work here, and all these high draft picks with great football résumés had better be okay with throwing their stats out the window, Brown included, if this thing is going to work.

“Mike never bitches,” Arians said. “I love Mike. Today he didn’t touch the ball till the fourth quarter, but he just wants to win. Chris Godwin, same way. Gronk, same way. If AB’s not that way, then we’re going to have a problem.”

Now a riff from Arians:

“I know everybody wants to say Tom Brady lobbied us to get this done. Tom Brady lobbied me back in, gosh, June, July, August. I said no. It didn’t fit then. Now, we’re in the hunt. I owe it to the rest of my players—if there’s a guy that fits our salary cap cheap, who’s a Pro Bowl-type player, let’s bring him on our squad. Who says he has to start? I mean, we just got another Pro Bowl player to put in if one of those guys go down. AB brings another dynamic to our team that we don’t have. I owe it to the rest of our players to put the best team out there possible. I don’t foresee any problems. I don’t anticipate any situation where he and I are gonna have a problem. He knows that if there is, it’s a very short-lived contract.

“Offensively we’ve been struggling all year with injuries. I wanna be able to make that playoff push with whoever’s available. Kinda the same thing we did with [veteran center] A.Q. Shipley. We brought him in just in case. So, we got a dominant center sitting on the bench. This team’s too good not to make that run and give our guys, our locker room, every chance. This move wasn’t made without me talking to every single one of our veteran players. Do you want this guy? Do you want this guy in our locker room? Every man said yes.”

Let’s spitball a minute. The Bucs are at the 1-6 Giants next Monday. A win there, and Tampa is 6-2 at the midpoint with a huge scheduling dichotomy in the second half: A killer quadrant of games (New Orleans, at Carolina, Rams, Kansas City), then the bye, then a soft last quadrant (Minnesota, at Atlanta, at Detroit, Atlanta). Brown is slated to be eligible to practice before the Saints game. So a cynical fan would say, If he implodes, at least he might be able to contribute in the brutal part of their schedule.

But if this blows up and hurts the team, the Bucs have to own it. No matter how tempting the shiny object is, Arians and the franchise are tempting fate. Arians and Brown need to have a crystal-clear understanding, with no blurred lines. If Brown so much as jaywalks, the experiment is over. There’s no other way to do this.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here.

How to watch Miami Dolphins vs LA Chargers: TV, live stream info for Sunday night’s game

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It’s the Miami Dolphins vs LA Chargers this Sunday night at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch tonight’s game.

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Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins (8-4) currently hold one of the AFC’s Wild Card spots after a tough 33-17 loss against the 49ers last Sunday afternoon that ended Miami’s 5-game win streak. Tagovailoa finished 18-of-33 for 295 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 3 turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble). He did not return for the game’s final play after injuring his ankle on a strip sack late in the 4th quarter but is expected to start this Sunday. Despite last Sunday’s performance, which was Tagovailoa’s worst of the season, the Dolphins QB has exceeded expectations in year 3. In the 10 games he’s played this season, Tagovailoa has already surpassed his career highs in touchdown passes (21) and passing yards (2,859). He also leads the NFL in passer rating (112.0) and yds/attempt (9.02).

RELATED: Tua Tagovailoa feels “as good as I can be after a game”

LA Chargers

Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers (6-6)  fell 27-20 to the Raiders last Thursday night picking up their 3rd loss in the last 4 games. The team, which is seeking its first playoff appearance since 2018, currently sits one game behind the NY Jets and outside of playoff position. Herbert finished 28-of-47 for 335 passing yards–his most in a game since Week 4–and one touchdown. WR Keenan Allen had 6 receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown while RB Austin Ekeler had 5 receptions for 57 receiving yards and picked up 35 yards on the ground. The 6th-year RB leads the Chargers’ offense with 85 receptions this season and is second on the team with 564 receiving yards.

How many times have Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert gone head-to-head?

Third-year QBs Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert went 5th and 6th overall, respectively in the 2020 NFL Draft. However, Sunday night’s matchup will be just the second meeting between two players who have quickly become some of the best young quarterbacks in the league. Tagovailoa and Herbert met in Week 10 of their rookie season when the Dolphins defeated the Chargers 29-21. Tagovailoa threw for 169 yds and 2 touchdowns in the win, while Herbert passed for 187 yds, 2 touchdowns, and an interception in the Chargers loss.

Both quarterbacks are looking to make their first career playoff appearance this season.


How to watch the Miami Dolphins vs LA Chargers:

  • Where: SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California
  • When: Sunday, December 11
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Miami Dolphins vs LA Chargers game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: When do the 2022 NFL Playoffs start: dates, schedule, playoff format, overtime rules, and more


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

When do the 2022 NFL Playoffs start: dates, schedule, playoff format, overtime rules, and more

The 2022 NFL playoffs begin on January 14! Here is everything you need to know before then!
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The 2022 NFL playoffs are quickly approaching and this year’s format will once again include a total of 14 teams –seven from each conference with the top seeds automatically getting a first-round bye. Six games will take place on Wild Card Weekend under the following format for each conference:

2022 NFL Wild Card Weekend Format :

  • No. 2 Seed (host) vs No. 7 Seed
  • No. 3 Seed (host) vs No. 6 Seed
  • No. 4 Seed (host) vs No. 5 Seed

The Wild Card winners will advance to the Divisional round where they will face the top seeds in each conference. See below to find out the 2022 NFL playoff format and schedule.

When do the 2022 NFL Playoffs Start?

The 2022 NFL playoffs begin on Saturday, January 14, 2023.

2022 NFL Playoff Schedule

Be sure to check back for times and teams but until then follow all the NFL action on ProFootballTalk!

Wild Card Weekend Schedule:

  • Saturday, January 14
  • Sunday, January 15
  • Monday, January 16

Divisional Weekend:

  • Saturday, January 21
  • Sunday, January 22

Conference Championships:

  • Sunday, January 29

When is the Super Bowl?

This year’s Super Bowl will take place at State Farm Stadium–home of the Arizona Cardinals– in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox. The last time the Super Bowl was contested in Arizona was in 2015, Super Bowl XLIX when the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks.

How will overtime work in the 2022 NFL playoffs?

After Kansas City’s exciting 42-36 overtime victory over the Bills in last year’s divisional round, when Kansas City scored a touchdown on the first possession of OT denying the Bills a chance to touch the ball, the league has made a change to its postseason rules. Each team will now have an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime. See below for the NFL’s official postseason OT rules:

2022 NFL Playoffs Overtime Rules:

  • If the score is still tied at the end of an overtime period — or if the second team’s initial possession has not ended — the teams will play another overtime period. Play will continue regardless of how many overtime periods are needed for a winner to be determined.
  • There will be a two-minute intermission between each overtime period. There will not be a halftime intermission after the second period.
  • The captain who lost the first overtime coin toss will either choose to possess the ball or select which goal his team will defend unless the team that won the coin toss deferred that choice.
  • Each team will have an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime.
  • Each team gets three timeouts during a half.
  • The same timing rules that apply at the end of the second and fourth regulation periods also apply at the end of a second or fourth overtime period.
  • If there is still no winner at the end of a fourth overtime period, there will be another coin toss, and play will continue until a winner is declared.

RELATED: NFL overtime rules and procedures


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!