It was only a month ago that there were serious discussions of the Patriots going 16-0, having another perfect season. Any prediction of a team finishing perfect likely won’t make you look like a genius. However, this team had a chance to win every game.
Then they actually took the field. After taking another loss, the team looks like they need to spend a lot of time in the film room. Unfortunately for the Dont’a Hightower led defense, they will be back on the field on short rest on Thursday.
The Patriots will visit Tampa Bay, as Brady and the high flying Patriots offense challenge Mike Evans, Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers (2-1). Another team in the elite NFC South, the Bucs were a popular pick as a breakout team in the NFL for 2017, as young players and recent additions like DeSean Jackson have teamed up in an attempt to bring the squad back to the playoffs.
After beating the Giants in the final seconds, the Bucs are looking to make it two in a row this week.
What makes the Buccaneers good?
Now in his third season, Jameis Winston passed for over four thousand yards in both his rookie and sophomore seasons. The former first overall pick has been able to do that in large part to his best receiver. Mike Evans, one of the league’s best targets. While never passing one hundred receptions, Evans has finished two of his three seasons with more than ten touchdowns, including twelve last season. Already with a touchdown from his new quarterback, former Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson joins Evans, Cameron Brate and other targets that force fans and players to respect the Tampa passing game.
Through three games (four for most teams), the Bucs have allowed the second least yards per carry, trailing only the Denver defense. With Gerald McCoy playing in the middle of the defensive line, it is difficult to establish a strong game on the ground against Tampa.
What makes the Buccaneers bad?
On the flip side, pass protection has been a weak point for the team. Despite playing in one less game than every team aside from the Dolphins, this week’s opponent is tied for allowing the eleventh most passing touchdowns. They’re average yardage per pass attempt ranks amongst the worst in the league (Pats allow the most yards per passing play), and despite having LaVonte David the pass rush might be a big part of that. With only one sack on the young season, the edge rushers are not forcing enough throws.
While Doug Martin has been suspended, the ground game for the Bucs has been atrocious. With only one touchdown heading into week 5, the rushing “attack” has been led by Jacquizz Rodgers. Against Minnesota in week 3, Rodgers led the team in rushing with only fifteen yards. Doug Martin always seems to be a guy worth talking about, but has failed to post consistent production. Only twice over five seasons has he managed to rush for over one thousand yards, and only once has he scored more than six touchdowns.
How can the Buccaneers win?
For Tampa to win, they need to continue exploiting the Patriots secondary. New England might not have time to make the necessary adjustments with a short week off. Tampa’s receiving corp is superior to the sans Greg Olsen unit that Carolina brought into Gillette Stadium on Sunday. If LaVonte David can lead the defense to provide pressure on Brady, it might be too much.
Patriots 37- Buccaneers 35
Tyler’s record: 2-2
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