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BREAKING: Rob Gronkowsi is OUT with a thigh injury
It’s not often that the New England Patriots aren’t among one of the best in the NFL, but after a narrow win over Houston in Week 3 and a loss in Week 4, here we are. Jameis Winston and co. will host the Patriots at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday Night Football. You can tune in at 8:25 p.m. ET on NFL Network/CBS in local markets (live stream).
With Tom Brady at the helm, the offense isn’t the problem for New England. Despite losing a couple of key skill players in the offseason and then to injury, the team welcomed back TE Rob Gronkowski and Brady went 32-of-45 during last week’s loss for 307 yards and two scores (with zero interceptions).
More surprising than the Patriots’ offensive success is their defense’s regression since last season. Initially pegged — as always — to go undefeated on its way to yet another Super Bowl appearance and win, now the team sits behind the Bills (yes, you read that right) for the top spot in the AFC East, and is tied in second place with the Jets. The Patriots defense has given up more yards than any other team in the NFL, and its 128 points allowed is a franchise high through four games (yikes).
The Buccaneers, on the other hand, are settling in with Winston at quarterback. Wideout Mike Evans has been having himself a year, and the team returns running back Doug Martin from a four-game suspension. With weapons to create a complete offensive package, they have potential to wind up with a spot in the postseason.
Time, TV channel, and streaming info
- Time: 8:25 p.m. ET
- Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
- TV: NFL Network (CBS in local markets)
- Streaming: Amazon Prime
- Odds: Patriots are favored by 5 points
Patriots vs. Buccaneers news:
- This could be a high-scoring matchup with so many defensive injuries for both teams.
- LB Kendell Beckwith is proving the Buccaneers were smart to trade up in the draft to get him.
It’s not just the run-stuffing, where the Bucs are much better than they were last year, holding opponents to 2.9 yards per attempt so far. It’s also the pass coverage: I can’t remember Beckwith getting beaten for any big play, and PFF thinks he’s doing a great job there, too.
- Would making a trade help the Patriots defense? Probably not.
But it’s a real kick in the jewels to lose to a Carolina Panthers team that’s missing one of the best tight ends in the game, are starting a wide receiver that supposedly weighed almost as much as Joe Thuney coming into training camp, and in general looking like they were playing Mario Kart and had to take a tequila shot every time they got hit.
- Tampa Bay is starting to get momentum, but its kicking situation is still less than ideal.
Two missed field goals, a missed extra point, and a nearly-shanked game-winning field goal. Not a great game for a kicker, there.
Patriots vs. Buccaneers predictions:
As hard as it is to go against New England, especially coming off a loss, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are starting to move up in the power rankings and welcome back running back extraordinaire Doug Martin this week. It’ll be a close game through the fourth quarter but then the Bucs pull ahead for the win. Stephen White, former Bucs defensive lineman, was our only expert who took Tampa Bay to win in his Week 5 NFL picks, although OddsShark’s computer agrees.