On Thursday Night Football, the New England Patriots will be attempting to avoid dropping below .500 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The New England Patriots travel to Tampa, FL to face the 2-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After losing at home to the NFC South’s Carolina Panthers 33-30 last week, New England has a short turnaround this week and have to take on an unfamiliar opponent on Thursday night.
The Buccaneers are coming off a game on Sunday where they blew a 13-0 lead over the Giants and had to come from behind to win on a last second field goal by kicker Nick Folk. As they have done in the first four weeks, the Buccaneers leaned on 23 year-old quarterback Jameis Winston with Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin suspended.
With Martin back on Thursday, it is one more offensive weapon for a beleaguered New England defense to worry about. The Patriots’ defense was unable to force Cam Newton and Carolina off the field as they allowed six scoring drives and forced just one punt the entire game. Now the offense has to go against a strong defense in Tampa Bay that forced five punts by the Giants last week (all stats from Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted).
There are a number of factors that will go into whether the Patriots will win, whether the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will pull the upset, who needs to step up for New England on Sunday, what one of the hidden factors that could impact the game, and what will actually happen on Sunday.