The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) are set to host the New England Patriots (2-2) in prime time on Thursday Night Football in Week 6. Kickoff is set for 8:25 EST at Raymond James Stadium and will be televised nationally on CBS.
Oddsmakers currently have New England listed as a 5.5-point road favorite with the total set at 55.5 points. Click here for a full look at the betting schedule and more links to game previews.
Patriots vs Buccaneers Vegas Game Preview & Betting Odds
New England comes into this one off a surprising 30-33 home loss to the Panthers as a 9-point favorite. That came just one week after nearly losing outright at home to the Texans (36-33) as a 13-point favorite. The Patriots are now just 1-3 ATS to start the season with the only cover coming in their 36-20 road win over the Saints as a 5.5-point favorite.
Tampa Bay rebounded from an ugly loss at Minnesota in Week 3 with a thrilling 25-23 win at home over the New York Giants. The Bucs won the game on a 34-yard field goal by Nick Folk on the final play of the game. While Tampa improved to 2-1, they dropped to 1-2 ATS, as they were a 3-point favorite over the Giants.
NFL Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Buccaneers +5.5
My early lean here would be to take the points with Tampa Bay at home. This Patriots defense has been dreadful through the first four weeks of the season. They are 31st in points allowed at 32.0 ppg and dead last in yards allowed (476.8 ypg). They are 32nd against the pass (324.0 ypg) and 26th against the run (132.8 ypg).
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This past weekend they let a Cam Newtown and a struggling Carolina offense rack up 33 points and 444 yards. The defense was so bad, the Patriots couldn’t even win at home, despite being +2 in turnovers. As much as I hate going against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady off a loss, I just see too much value in Tampa Bay as an underdog at home.
I was impressed with how the Bucs responded against the Giants, as they were still missing some key players on defense. They are starting to get healthy on that side of the ball and while I don’t expect them to shutdown Brady and the Patriots offense, I think they can keep them in check.
More than anything, I just don’t see New England’s defense being able to slow down Jameis Winston and this high-powered Buccaneers offense. A unit that’s only going to get better once DeSean Jackson starts getting more involved. They also get a big boost to their running game this week, as Doug Martin returns from a 3-game suspension. Martin was impressive in training camp and could step in right away with a huge game against this Pats defense.
While New England’s offense is built around Brady and the passing attack, the ability to have some success on the ground is critical. It won’t be easy getting the running game going against the Bucs, who rank 5th in the NFL against the run, allowing just 78.7 ypg and a mere 2.9 yards/carry. Note that the Patriots are just 1-4 ATS over the last 3 seasons against teams who are holding opponents under 90 rushing yards/game.
I just think this line would be a lot closer to a pick’em if it wasn’t for it being the Patriots. The thing is, they have been overvalued by the books early and that’s definitely played into their 1-3 start against the spread. I don’t think there’s any doubt this line has been inflated, as the books know the public will be on New England in a prime time game. I expect big money to come in on the Bucs, so don’t be surprised if this line doesn’t start moving the other way.