The New England Patriots will be traveling to Tampa, Florida this week to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football. While most of the games on TNF are mostly one-sided or low scoring, this game has the potential to be one of the best TNF matchups this season.
The odds for Patriots vs. Buccaneers game has the Patriots as 5.5 point favorites, and the over/under on total points scored is 54.5. We will take a look at the game and make a prediction against the spread.
Why the Patriots Will Cover the Spread
The Patriots have the second best offense in the NFL this season, and are averaging 32 points per game. They are going against a defense that made Case Keenum look like a Hall of Famer, which means New England’s offense will be able to put up points against the Tampa Bay defense.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady leads the league in passing yards with 1,399 yards. He is expected to have a big game against the Bucs and should be able to pick their defense apart if his offensive line holds up.
If Keenum could carve the Tampa Bay defense up for 369 yards while completing 75.8 percent of his passes, Brady should be able to do even better against the defense.
Why the Buccaneers Will Cover the Spread
The Patriots defense has been even worse than Tampa Bay’s this season, and a quarterback like Alex Smith was able to have a career day against the Patriots defense in the season opener. On Sunday, the defense once again let them down as Cam Newton, who has been struggling this season finished with 316 yards against the Patriots on Sunday.
For the season, opposing quarterbacks are have a 116.5 passer rating against the Patriots defense, which shows just how bad they have been this year. The opposing quarterbacks have also passed for 1,296 yards against the Patriots this season.
Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay’s offense have been playing well of late. The former Heisman trophy winner has thrown for 328 yards in each of his last two games, and finished with a 113 passer rating against the New York Giants on Sunday.
If Winston continues playing at a high level on Thursday, there’s no reason he won’t be able to exploit the holes in New England’s secondary.
While New England’s secondary has been taking most of the blame, their run defense isn’t any better either. Going into Thursday’s game, the Patriots defense is allowing opponents to average 5.1 yards per carry. Teams have been able to run the ball successfully against the Patriots, and if the Bucs run the ball as much as they did against the Giants on Sunday, they should be able to control the clock and dictate the tempo of the game.
The Patriots have already matched last season’s loss total in four games, with both losses coming at home. If Brady didn’t bail the team out in the closing minutes of their game against the Houston Texans, the Patriots would have a losing record right now.
Bill Belichick will probably turn things around but the fact that the defense hasn’t shown any signs of improvement is a reason to be cautious about taking the Patriots against the spread. If the Patriots find a way to win this game, it is probably going to be a very close one.