The Patriots defense has been awful the first 4 weeks and the Buccaneers haven’t been much better. The Bucs get a “pass” from a long-term perspective at least because they’ve been banged up on the defensive side of the ball and have the talent and experience to be a top unit when some players return. Still, the Bucs are banged up and I’m looking at the Over for that reason. Both defenses tonight in Tampa Bay will be far inferior to the offenses they are matched up against.
On the offensive side of the ball the Patriots have averaged 32.2 points per game through 4 weeks and the defense has given up 32 points per game. On a 54.5 point total I like that math and don’t believe the Bucs will pose any real threat to Brady even though the Patriots offensive line hasn’t been playing very well – the Bucs have just 1 sack through 3 games and will be without starting linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David. Starting safeties T.J. Ward and Keith Tandy are also out for this game. The Patriots haven’t scored less than 27 in any game so far and odds aren’t likely that a defense without 4 of its starters who just gave up 23 points to the Giants will be the first to do so.
The Patriots’ defense has been ugly to say the least – 42 points to the Chiefs, 33 points to the Panthers, 30 points to the Texans, and 20 to the Saints. They have been having communication problems which has led to players being out of position for big plays. Eric Rowe is out for this game and the biggest player in the secondary to cover 6’5 Mike Evans is 6’1 Stephon Gilmore. I’m not convinced the Patriots are all of a sudden going to figure things out and mesh together when they had just 3 days to prepare this week. This defense has the talent in the secondary to fix things (and obviously the greatest coach of all time) but doing so for kickoff tonight is a tall order on the short week. It’s more likely the Patriots fix their problems as the season goes on and still have some holes to patch up tonight. Doug Martin returns from suspension for the Bucs tonight and that only helps the Bucs’ offense.
I think this game could get close to a 60 point finish. Over 54.5, 1.5 units.
Note: The Patriots are incredible off a loss – 14-5 SU & 16-3 ATS dating back to 2012. I am personally tempted to take them off a loss blindly but I am staying away from a side in this game because I can’t trust the defense.
Good luck and enjoy the game. This matchup easily looks like the best Thursday night matchup of the season so far and hopefully it lives up to expectations.