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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots: Preview and Pick
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots: Preview and Pick
Two teams that are struggling will meet on the field this weekend when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to face the New England Patriots in week three of the NFL. Both of these teams have had a tough start to the season, but the Buccaneers are winless while the Patriots have yet to lose a game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots Odds
The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Patriots listed as nine point favorites, but after an ugly game against the New York Jets on Thursday night football, the line was bet down. The Buccaneers did not beat the new Orleans Saints but they played well enough to give bettors confidence and this line can now be found at seven points at several top rated online sportsbooks. This line is most likely to go up as the betting consensus shows that the Patriots are getting 53 percent of the action early in the week.
The Patriots are at home where they rarely lose, but Tom Brady has some work to do with his young wide receivers. His frustration over dropped passes and badly run routes was evident on Thursday night against the Jets.
The Patriots won despite having more punts (11) than 1st downs (9). It was the first such win for New England in the Bill Belichick era since 2000. They will have to clean up their act if they hope to beat the Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers may be 0-2, but they have had a chance to win both games late. The Buccaneers need to clean up their game as they have a ton of penalties every weekend. The Buccaneers committed 10 penalties for 118 yards Sunday, and they lead the NFL with 23 penalties and 220 penalty yards this season. Tampa Bay has a penalty EPA of -2.94 this season, 2nd-worst in the NFL (their 2 losses are by a combined 3 points) behind the 49ers. If they can stop having penalties, they may actually get a win this season.
The sports betting trends favor New England in this game. New England is 4-2 straight up in its last 6 games when playing Tampa Bay and they are 12-2 in the last 14 games overall. However it should be noted that the Patriots are just 2-5 against the spread (ATS) in the last seven games. The Buccaneers are just 1-7 straight up in the last eight games that they have played and they are 4-12 straight up in the last 16 road games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots Pick
With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
The New England Patriots are becoming increasingly optimistic that tight end Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady's most trustworthy receiver, will soon rejoin the huddle.
Gronkowski has been practicing for several weeks, and a source said there is a 50-50 chance that he makes his return to the lineup Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Although the Patriots have opened with two victories, Brady has been visibly frustrated after struggling with a supporting cast that includes three rookie wideouts and an undrafted rookie tight end. With three top receiving targets missing last Thursday, Brady struggled throughout a 13-10 victory over the New York Jets, completing less than 50 percent of his passes and running an offense that converted just 4 of 18 third downs and had more punts (11) than first downs (9).
That could all change with Gronk, who is the NFL's most dominant red zone player. He missed the entire preseason and the first two regular-season games following offseason surgeries on his back and forearm.
On Monday, in his weekly interview with WEEI Radio in Boston, Brady compared Gronkowski's absence to a baseball team losing its ace pitcher. "He's a great player and he helps in the run game and the pass game, provides a level of toughness for our team, and he's been a really consistent player when he's been out there, so it's really -- it's hard to replace him; there's only one Gronk," he said. "I know he's working his butt off to get back, and every time I see him he's got a great attitude about his rehabilitation and what he's going through to get back on the field."
Controversy continues to swirl around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their 0-2 start.
The latest comes from media reports that say star cornerback Darrelle Revis is unhappy with coach Greg Schiano's disciplined style and his defensive scheme.
A Fox Sports report said Revis, who previously played for player-friendly coach Rex Ryan with the New York Jets, isn't happy with Schiano's strict approach. The New York Post reported that Revis is unhappy that Schiano has been playing zone coverage because the cornerback prefers man-to-man coverage.
Perhaps in response to the multiple reports, Revis took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, claiming that he is "happy to be a Buccaneer." Revis also tweeted that he is still "excited" about this season despite Tampa Bay's poor start.
Despite the numerous reports, Revis has had an impact defensively with the Buccaneers, who have allowed a total of 34 points this season -- tied for eighth best in the NFL.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson's one-game suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit has been reduced to a $100,000 fine. The NFL confirmed in a statement released Wednesday that Goldson won his appeal of the suspension. The two-time Pro Bowler will be eligible to play Sunday against the New England Patriots.
The NFL suspended Goldson on Monday for his helmet-to-helmet hit on New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles. But the league announced two days later that the discipline was reduced by Matt Birk, an independent appeals officer appointed by the NFL and the players' union.
"Birk is jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFL Players Association to hear and decide appeals for on-field player discipline," the league's statement said.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he had not yet seen Birk's decision but noted that Goldson received a "substantial fine" that shows "a violation of the rule has consequences."
"Players are adapting to the rules and techniques," Goodell said, adding that "the culture doesn't change overnight."
The hit to Sproles came one week after Goldson was fined $30,000 for hitting New York Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland during the Buccaneers' Week 1 loss. The one-game suspension would have cost Goldson in the neighborhood of $265,000.
Goldson was flagged for his hit on Sproles, as he was for the hit on Cumberland. The league also announced Wednesday that Birk upheld the $30,000 fine for Goldson's hit on Cumberland.
The Buccaneers committed 10 penalties for 118 yards in a 16-14 loss to the Saints, one week after committing 13 penalties for 102 yards against the Jets. Tampa Bay's 220 yards in penalties are the most in the NFL; its 23 penalties are tied for the most with the San Francisco 49ers.
From 2010 through Monday, Goldson has drawn 15 personal fouls, more than any other player in the league.
Through two games, Goldson has been a crucial part of Tampa Bay's improvement in the secondary. On passes thrown at least 21 yards downfield, the Buccaneers have allowed a total QBR of 57.1, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Over the previous two seasons, the Buccaneers allowed a total QBR of 97.5 on those passes.
New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola will not undergo surgery for a sports hernia, according to media reports.
The Boston Herald and WBZ-TV in Boston, citing sources, reported Tuesday that Amendola's timeline for a return to action is now a few weeks. Fox Sports had previously reported that Amendola has torn adductor muscles in his hip, and that there was conflicting medical opinions on whether Amendola had a sports hernia.
Had Amendola undergone surgery for a sports hernia, he reportedly would have been sidelined for about a month. Amendola was present at the start of the Patriots' full-pads practice Wednesday morning. Reporters saw Amendola jog with his teammates, go through agility drills and then catch a few lightly thrown passes. He didn't take part in every drill and wasn't running at full speed.
Amendola initially injured his groin in a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Aug. 16. He missed the Patriots' final two preseason games before aggravating the injury late in the second quarter of the Patriots' regular-season opener last Sunday.
Amendola played through the injury in the second half of the opener, making two clutch receptions on New England's game-winning drive and finishing with a team-high 10 catches for 104 yards against the Buffalo Bills. He missed Thursday's 13-10 win over the New York Jets.
If guard Carl Nicks is able to play on Sunday, it will mark a milestone for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If Nicks, who is recovering from a staph infection, plays against New England, it will mark the first time he and fellow guard Davin Joseph will be on the field together. That’s a scenario that’s coming about a year later than the Buccaneers imagined.
Joseph suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason last year and missed all of last season. Nicks ended up missing the second half of last season with a foot injury.
But the Bucs might finally see their grand plan at guard come to fruition. They signed Nicks, thinking they could pair him with Joseph and have one of the league’s best guard tandems.
It’s coming a year later than expected, but the Bucs finally are on the verge of having their dream scenario at guard.
If you trust Bill Belichick as an evaluator of football talent, then there is no longer reason to question the health of Darrelle Revis’ knee.
The jersey and schemes that he operates within may be different since Revis was last seen patrolling the field for the New York Jets prior to this summer’s trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the talent he demonstrated before undergoing ACL surgery last October remains.
“He was out there for almost every snap against New Orleans,“ Belichick said. “They tested him on several plays. They tested him on flea flicker, double moves, slant routes on third down, all those things. I thought he played very well.”
To be precise, Revis missed three of 74 snaps during last week’s 16-14 loss to the Saints. According to ProFootballFocus.com, he gave up four receptions on six targets. The reception rate may seem high for a player who sometimes went entire games without being targeted, but the damage was minimal, as he gave up 33 total yards.
One difference, too, is that Revis built his reputation as the best shutdown cornerback in the New York, where man-to-man coverage was preferred. In Tampa Bay, at times, he’s been forced to operate in zone coverage.
Recent reports suggest that Revis is upset with these schemes, though the cornerback recently took to Twitter to say that he is “happy to be a Buccaneer.”
No matter. Revis’ issues with his coach or scheme mean little to the Patriots. Right now, they have a Revis problem and need to figure out how to beat it.
After spending the last few days watching tape of his performance, the rookie receivers still aren’t sure how to accomplish that task.
“He’s one of a kind,” rookie receiver Aaron Dobson said. “Definitely can’t compare anyone that I’ve played against. ... I gotta be on my ’A’ game. All our receivers gotta be on their ’A’ game.”
In recent years, Tom Brady has kept his plan for Revis pretty simple.
Stay away from him.
In two 2011 games, Brady targeted Revis six times. That was the same figure posted during two 2010 games, though Brady went after Revis eight times during a playoff game that season, completing five attempts.
Perhaps the Patriots will change things up and attack Revis this week, but it doesn’t sound as though the man tasked with distributing the ball has seen anything that will make him alter his approach.
But Revis may not be the Pats’ only problem this week.
“Some of the best guys we’ll play against in the league, Darrelle Revis, Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson, who’s one my favorite players,” Brady said.
Why is Goldson one of his favorite players?
“If I were a safety I’d try to play like him,“ Brady said. “He’s a great player.”
The NFL probably wouldn’t like Brady much if he did, indeed, play like Goldson
For a while, it appeared that Goldson wouldn’t even be on the field this week, after the NFL announced that it had suspended the safety for a helmet-to-helmet hit on New Orleans’ Darren Sproles.
But Goldson was able to get his suspension overturned, according to NFL Network, and will instead be fined $100,000.
That will not alter New England’s preparations for the Bucs. Belichick said the team was preparing for all outcomes, as it always does.
“It’s no different than a player that is questionable for the game,” Belichick said. “If they’re there, they’re there. If they’re not, they’re not. We have to prepare for him, and we have to prepare for whoever the next person is.”
The Patriots are doing plenty of preparing for Revis.
The question now is whether New England attacks the issue or finds a way around it.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is officially questionable for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is an upgrade from his injury status the first two weeks of the season.
A questionable designation reflects a 50-50 chance to play, which is what ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder reported earlier in the week. Gronkowski, who is recovering from forearm and back surgeries this offseason, had been listed as doubtful on the final injury report of the week leading into the season opener against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 8 and again for the Sept. 12 Thursday night game against the New York Jets. He didn't play in either game.
While Gronkowski has been upgraded on the injury report this week, he has still been limited in practice all week.
Receiver Danny Amendola (groin) is doubtful, which means at least a 75 percent chance that he will not play. Amendola has been present at the start of practice all week but has been limited in his work.
Special-teams captain Matthew Slater (wrist) has been declared out, while rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld (hamstring) is probable after missing the 13-10 win over the Jets on Sept. 12.
The Patriots have six players who are questionable. In addition to Gronkowski, reserve running back Brandon Bolden (knee), starting right guard Dan Connolly (finger), special teamer Nate Ebner (ankle), reserve tackle/guard Will Svitek (knee) and running back Leon Washington (thigh) are all questionable.
For the Buccaneers, defensive tackle Derek Landri (knee), cornerback Michael Adams (knee) and tackle/guard Gabe Carimi (illness) have been ruled out.
It’s been nearly 11 months since the Patriots acquired Aqib Talib from the Buccaneers, and fittingly, the cornerback is coming off his best game in years just in time to show his old team what they’ve been missing.
Talib forced a fumble and intercepted two fourth-quarter passes, including the decisive blow, in last week’s victory against the Jets. The Bucs’ 2008 first-round pick would seemingly like nothing more than to back up that showing on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Talib’s done wonders to better a shaky reputation the last couple years, despite a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs that ultimately ended his run with the Bucs, who swung him here for a fourth-round pick when they decided he wouldn’t be re-signed in the offseason.
The Patriots have exceeded the value of their investment, as Talib has helped change the direction of the defense. His presence immediately altered the secondary. Alfonzo Dennard slid to right cornerback, Kyle Arrington shifted to the slot and Devin McCourty was given the peace of mind to know he’d be staying at safety. They were also coached to play more aggressively, and it showed with a heightened level of intensity, both with the secondary and the front seven.“(Talib’s arrival) defined different roles on the team, and I think the biggest thing is it’s been able to stay that way,” McCourty said. “He’s been here, and guys have been healthy. It gives us a chance to not just play together but develop together, and it helps us as a secondary.”
The Patriots are 9-2 (including playoffs) since Talib joined the team following his suspension, and he has been a key member of a defense that has been the stronger of their two units this season. He has also been an important contributor at practice and in meetings. The most tangible evidence was an offseason award and his front-row parking space, but the leadership and eagerness to learn the entire defensive scheme has endeared him to his teammates.“I love it here,” Talib said. “Nothing but love for my teammates. I came in and meshed good as soon as I got here. Nothing but love for my coaches. I love it here.”When asked to describe Talib’s impact, Arrington’s first word was “leadership,” before mentioning him along with two of the team’s most well-respected mainstays.“
Everybody doesn’t have to go out there and just talk about it or preach about it, or be demonstrative or vocal,” Arrington said. “He’s demonstrative with his play, and guys like him, (Jerod) Mayo, Vince (Wilfork), it’s easy to put on your best act to repeat the same as what they’re doing.”
Talib was only concerned with building on his second career game forcing three turnovers. Talib’s teammates see the potential for him to become an assassin while the ball is in the air, especially after he killed three of the Jets’ drives a week ago.“You can’t take that away from a guy that has that knack,” McCourty said, “and I think he does.”
Talib will again play a vital role this week. Though the Bucs have gotten very little from quarterback Josh Freeman, the league’s most inaccurate passer through two weeks, wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams pose a formidable threat.Jackson’s 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame would present a mismatch for Arrington and Dennard, who are each 5-foot-10, so the 6-foot-1 Talib will almost certainly draw his share of one-on-one assignments on his former teammate. Jackson will line up outside in two-receiver sets, and he gets a lot of work in the slot when the Bucs add a third receiver to the formation, but Talib has followed players inside before. (Most notably, Andre Johnson of the Texans.)
If Talib can keep Jackson in check, it’d go a long way toward a Patriots victory. And if the $5 million cornerback can steal a ball from his Bucs counterpart, he’ll feel an even nicer sense of vindication.
However, Talib, nearly a year removed from the situation, wouldn’t entertain any questions related to his time in Tampa.“Hey that’s not my team, man,” Talib said. “We’re worried about these Patriots. We’re good over here, man. That’s all I’m worried about.”
Three things to watch from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they play the New England Patriots at 1 p.m. Sunday:
-Josh Freeman and the circus.
The Tampa Bay quarterback hasn’t looked sharp in the preseason and the first two regular-season games and there’s been a report he may demand a trade. The pressure on Freeman is at an all-time high as speculation continues that he and coach Greg Schiano aren’t on the same page. Another loss and poor performance by Freeman could prompt Schiano to turn things over to rookie Mike Glennon after the Week 5 bye.
-Doug Martin vs. the New England run defense.
The Patriots haven’t been very good against the run so far. They’ve allowed an average of 133 rushing yards in their first two games. Tampa Bay’s run-blocking could get a big boost if guard Carl Nicks is healthy enough to play.
-Tampa Bay’s defense.
There really has been only one bright spot for the Bucs and that’s the defense. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, defensive end Adrian Clayborn, linebackers Lavonte David and Mason Foster and the secondary are all off to good starts. New England’s offense hasn’t been spectacular, so Tampa Bay’s defense could keep the Bucs in the game.
Our best guess on the list for Sunday's home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Danny Amendola -- Receiver was listed as doubtful on the injury report (groin) and doesn't look like he's ready to play at this point.
Steve Beauharnais -- Linebacker was a healthy scratch last week, as his primary contributions would come on special teams at this point.
Brandon Bolden -- Running back has missed the first two games and is questionable with a knee injury. The Patriots could use his special-teams presence with Matthew Slater, out but he might need a little more time. He said Friday that he was unsure of his status.
Dan Connolly -- Starting right guard has been limited all week with a finger injury, which raises questions about his availability. Could mean Marcus Cannon steps in.
Rob Gronkowski -- If this was a playoff game, or even the Super Bowl, the feeling is that the tight end would be ready to play. But no need to rush things in Week 3 of the regular season.
Chris Jones -- Defensive tackle was claimed on waivers last week from the Buccaneers and is still being integrated into the system.
Matthew Slater -- Special-teams captain has already been declared out with a wrist injury.
Extra point: With Slater out, safety Kanorris Davis could be in line for a promotion from the practice squad. If that happens, tight end Matthew Mulligan and defensive tackle Chris Jones would be candidates to potentially create a spot for Davis.
The Buccaneers are a good enough team to win this game against the Patriots. It is hard to go against a Tom Brady and Bill Belichick team that has had extra time to prepare, but this line seems to be based on Patriot teams of the past.