New England -5.5 @ TAMPA BAY
Just 4 short weeks ago, the sports talking heads were touting this Patriots team's potential to go undefeated and repeat as Super Bowl champs. Now, at 2-2, the blame is being placed on the Patriots D. Rightly so, they are giving up an average of 32 pts per game. The only team the D held below this average was Saints who scored 20 in an easy Pats win.
Tampa is coming off an improbable win against the NY Giants kicking a last second FG for the 2 pt win. With 3 games in the books, we don't really know anything about this team. They beat Chicago who is now 1-3 and changing QBs, lost to the Case Keenum led Vikings and narrowly beat the 0-4 Giants. Jameis Winston threw for 332 and 3 TDs last week and I would expect more of the same on Thursday against the Pats secondary. But given that performance, the Bucs only managed to score 24 pts. Tampa will need to score more than 30 to win this game.
We know the Patriots offense can score more 30. Brady will have to win this game with his arm and he'll do just that. Gronk, Chris Hogan and Cooks should all have big games against a weak secondary and an injured core of linebackers. Brady needs one more win to tie Peyton Manning and Brett Favre for most regular season wins (186) and I think he gets it here with the cover.
Some additional stats to consider (source: walterfootball.com)
Tom Brady is 36-16 ATS off a loss
Bill Belichick is 25-10 ATS after losing as a favorite
Buccaneers are 8-21 ATS as a home underdog since 2009
PICK: New England -5.5