THURSDAY NIGHT PREVIEW AND PICK: PATRIOTS AT BUCCANEERS

Week 5 of the NFL season kicks off with a Thursday night game between the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tom Brady and crew will head to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa take on Jameis Winston and the Bucs in an 8:25 pm start.

The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots are off to a slow start, losing two of their three home games so far. That includes a surprising 33-30 home loss to Carolina on Sunday. In fact, their only home win was a tight 36-33 victory over the Houston Texans and their rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Tampa Bay comes in with a 2-1 record with wins over the Bears and Giants and a loss to the Vikings. The Bucs first game against Miami on September 10th, was postponed due to Hurricane Irma. Winston and the offense has been the strong point so far for the Bucs while the defense has been up and down. After a strong defensive showing in week 2 against the Bears, the Vikings torched them the following week with backup quarterback Case Keenum doing most of the damage.

For the Patriots, defense has clearly been a problem through the first four games. Only the Indianapolis Colts have given up more total points so far than the 128 allowed by the Patriots. And the 456 yards they give up each game is the most by any team in the NFL by some 60 yards.

However, the Patriots offense leads the lead in yards per game with 423 and their 129 points trail only the Los Angeles Rams who have 142. So expect some points to be scored on Thursday night in Tampa.

Oddsmakers still believe in New England and they are listed as a 5.5 point favorite at the time of this writing. Chances are, it’s because of Brady and his dynamic offense, and the fact that Head Coach Bill Belichick will find a way to keep his team from sliding under the .500 mark on the season. But they’ll need to find a way to limit Tampa from scoring at will and hope they can win a shootout. With a point total sitting at 55.5, it seems like a safe bet to go with the over in this one.

The Buccaneers best chance at a victory will be taking advantage of a weak Patriot defense and a beatable secondary, as well as getting their defense to have a solid performance and not one like their fans saw in Minnesota. The Bucs have won their last six home games and playing at Raymond James will definitely give them an advantage. But will it be enough to overcome a New England offense that has failed to score at least 30 points just once this season.

Prediction: Patriots win in a close one but fail to cover.

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