Pats Favored on Road Trip to Face Upstart Buccaneers

Who: New England Patriots v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

When: Thursday October 4th, 2017 8:25PM EST

Where: Raymond James Stadium—Tampa, Florida

Through Weeks 2 and 3, the Patriots looked a lot like the team we saw make an impressive comeback in the Super Bowl last season. With that being said, the New England team we have seen in Weeks 1 and 4 look woefully different than the reigning Super Bowl champions. Last week, for example, a defensive letdown at the very end of the game led to a Carolina field goal, one that clinched a 33-30 victory. The high-scoring affair and eventual loss was not viewed as the fault of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s offense, but rather the doing of a sub-par defense.

No matter how high-powered and potent your offense is, it is never going to be easy to win if your defense is giving up 30+. The Pats’ defense has now done that twice this season and have a 2-2 record to call their own as a result. If they cannot sure things up on the defensive side of things, the competent Tampa Bay offense, led by Jameis Winston, may threaten to sink the Patriots on Thursday night.

The Buccaneers, on the other hand, pulled out a gutsy win at home against a Giants team that has been, by far, the biggest disappointment in the NFL this season. Thanks to their season opener being postponed due to a Hurricane, the Bucs have now played 3 games and boast a 2-1 record. Up to this point, however, the Bucs have not really played anyone worth mentioning. The Giants had a chance to get the better of Tampa Bay, but the Bucs held on for the win. I think the Pats will be the first real test faced by Tampa Bay, but I think it is a storm they have a chance at being able to weather.

Game Overview and Analysis

When the visiting -5.5 (-115) Patriots (-260) take the field on Thursday night, they will do so understanding fully what happened the last time they took the field for a Thursday night game—in the season opener versus the Chiefs. In that matchup, a strong start was undone by some shoddy defense as well as a second half offensive collapse reminiscent of the Falcons in the last Super Bowl. The Pats’ offense is still widely regarded as perhaps the league’s best, as they are regularly grinding out more than 440 yards of total offense per game. For me, this game with the Bucs has much less to do with Tom Brady and the offense, and much more to do with the Patriots’ defense. We all know that Tom and Co. should be able to take care of business with relative ease against this Buccaneer defense, but will the Patriots’ defense be able to stop Winston, DeSean, and Evans? That much remains to be seen.

Putting perfectly into perspective just how woeful the Patriots have been on defense, you need not look much further than the average number of points allowed per game, which currently sits at 32 points, only .3 better than the average number of points their offense is scoring. As you could have probably guessed, if you are giving up almost as many points as you are scoring, on average, winning games will be a whole lot tougher than it needs to be.

As for the +5.5 (-105) Bucs (+220), they will be starting this game full of confidence. Yes, their win last week will be aiding that confidence, but I think they will be mostly confident thanks to the fact that the Pats lost at home last week and just barely escaped the week before. If they are giving opponents that much leeway in front of their home crowd, one cannot help but wonder what is going to happen to New England on the road.

If the Bucs’ defense comes to play at all, and can stop Tom Brady even some of the time, I really like the Bucs’ chances of earning an unlikely win at home. I think Jameis and the offense will take care of business as they usually do, and if the defense can step up to the plate Tampa Bay will be given a decent opportunity to win.

Betting Prediction

As far as a moneyline wager is concerned, my gut is telling me that you have to go with the Patriots (-260). I want to advise a wager on the Bucs, but the fact of the matter is that the Patriots are a better all-around team. If they can pull things together a little bit I think the Pats win this one easily.

With regard to the point spread as offered by BetOnline, however, I think this one has to go with the hosting Bucs, who are +5.5 (-105) underdogs. I like this wager simply because New England has not covered this same spread in either of the past 2 weeks. High from the confidence of last week’s win, I think the Bucs will compete with the Pats.

When it comes to the over/under, it is currently listed at a whopping 55 points (-110/-110). As crazy as it might sound, I think that the over (-110) is the best bet in this scenario. My reasoning for this is due to the fact that neither team has a particularly potent defense, and both teams have great offenses. I expect there to be a lot of passes, and I expect a lot of scoring to come as a result.