Pats Preview: Pats @ Bucs
As the New England Patriots prepare for a quick turnaround and a Thursday night showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, here are some pregame thoughts:
Quick Turnaround- Both teams have a quick turnaround from their games last week, as they'll be playing just four days after their last games. The Pats are looking to rebound off of a tough home loss to the Panthers, while the Bucs will be looking to continue the momentum gained from a late-game win over the Giants.
Injury Concerns- With the short week and lack of recovery time, injuries become a big concern for teams on Thursday night. The Pats have two players, Rex Burkhead and Eric Rowe, who have already been ruled out for the game. They also have seven other players listed as questionable, including Rob Gronkowski and Dont'a Hightower. If some of the questionable players end up as inactive, that could limit the team's chance to win.
Air Attack- The air attack should be on for both teams, as both the Pats and Bucs have extremely poor passing defenses. Coming into the game, New England's pass defense ranks dead last in the league. Tampa Bay isn't far ahead in that category, however, with the 31st ranked defense against the pass. With two strong quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Jameis Winston, expect both teams to go to the air as often as possible all night long. Brady has the Pats offense ranked number one in the league, while Winston has Tampa Bay locked in as the third best pass offense through the first month of the season.
Looking At A Shootout- The way this New England defense has been operating, the Pats are likely to get into a shootout with Tampa Bay. With the Bucs' relative lack of defensive, Brady and company should have no problem tallying up the points. It might very well come down to whether or not Brady can lead a late scoring drive to win it.
Prediction- On a short week it's experience that should prevail. Though the defense is the worst in the league and probably won't get much better by Thursday night, the Pats have enough on offense to match the Bucs score for score. With Brady playing as well as he ever has, expect the Pats to outlast Tampa Bay and get themselves back over .500. It likely won't be pretty, but it should be a win.
Pats 37, Bucs 35