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Thursday Night Football Preview: New England at Tampa Bay

Thursday Night Preview

New England Patriots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New England (-5.5), O/U 55.5

Arguably the biggest surprise this NFL season has been Thursday Night Football. In years past fans had to watch dull, low scoring games that were terrible for Fantasy Football. But in 2017, that hasn’t been the case. Without putting a kibosh on a pleasant surprise this season, Week 5 looks to continue the trend of entertaining mid-week football. Tonight, the NFL’s 32nd and 31st ranked pass defense go up against the leagues No. 1 and No. 3 pass offense.

New England Patriots

Thursday Night Football Preview

Thursday Night Football Preview: New England at Tampa BayI don’t think anyone would have predicted how the 2-2 New England Patriots would have started this season. Truly, we would be far less surprised if they were 4-0 at this point. The Patriots finished last season with the best scoring defense in the NFL. Now they are the worst defense in total points. The Patriots have given up the most fantasy points to tight ends, seventh most to wide receivers and second most by running backs. They are the worst fantasy defense in the league as well.

Tom Brady is still giving you everything you want. He is the top scoring quarterback in the league. He has brought his receivers along as well. Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan are both in the top 20 of fantasy receivers so far. Touchdowns have been lifting up their points so far. This should be a good week for passing games. The Buccaneers are sitting at 29th in the DVOA passing ranks. Brady and company should put up good numbers this week.

The Buccaneers are much better at stopping the run. The Patriots will likely counter this by just not running much. With the collection of pass-catching running backs, the Patriots will use the short pass to replace the run. James White and Dion Lewis will likely get more snaps than Mike Gillislee.  White is second on the team in targets.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Thursday Night Football Preview

Thursday Night Football Preview: New England at Tampa BayThe Buccaneers started off on a very hot win, beating the Chicago Bears badly. Things have cooled off quickly since then. The Buccaneers have not been stopping the pass, but they are strong against the run. Jameis Winston has been slowly improving each week. Last week he threw three touchdowns against the Giants. This week he will face the weakest defense he has faced yet. The Patriots defense has surrendered an incredible amount of fantasy points so far. Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson have not been particularly useful to date, but this is a great matchup for this corps.  Cameron Bate has been very solid in the passing game. O.J. Howard has not given the Buccaneers much, but Brate is giving Tampa Bay great production.

Another exciting point for the Buccaneers is the return of Doug Martin. Jacquizz Rodgers has been averaging just 55 yards per game. Martin should give this offense a boost and help relieve the pressure on the passing game. Martin ended up having the best weekend to return as he faces a team that surrenders 132.8 yards per game.

The Game

While the Patriots have had their issues, it is hard to think they could have a losing record five games into the season. The Buccaneers have gotten some wins against the Giants and the Bears. Both of these wins were home games. Both the Patriots losses were home games. The best single portion of this game is the Patriots offense. The Patriots will attack the Bucs in the passing game, hitting them where they are weak. Tampa Bay will try to control things and keep a balanced attack going (getting Martin back into the flow of the offense). In the end, the Patriots are favored and the reason is their ability to score.  Brady’s big fantasy value is compounded by the fact that his defense is so bad.  Considering the last two Thursday Night Football games have been higher scoring affairs, expect the Patriots to win in a shootout, 35-30

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