NFL betting tips: Free betting tips and odds for Thursday night – New England at Tampa Bay
New England at Tampa Bay (Friday, 0125 BST, Sky Sports Action and Main Event)
There were some unexpected results in week four and right up there was New England falling to a 33-30 defeat to Carolina at Foxboro and thus slipping to 2-2 for the season.
The Super Bowl champions are currently the very definition of a one-man team as quarterback Tom Brady continues to play at an incredibly high level in a bid to keep them competitive as time after time the defense digs them into a huge hole.
The Patriots trailed 30-16 last weekend in the fourth quarter before Brady executed two superb touchdown drives to tie the game and then watched from the sideline as two costly penalties allowed the visitors to set up the game-winning field goal as time expired.
Head coach Bill Belichick – not renowned for being particularly loquacious with the media – looked on the verge of spontaneous combustion in his interview straight after and admitted the following day in a conference call that there was “no magic wand” to immediately fix the current woes.
Bill Belichick: Under pressure
The defense now ranks 32nd and last in the NFL having given up 456.8 yards per game, an average of 31.7 points and allowed 15 touchdowns.
“It is bad. We are letting the team down,” said cornerback Devin McCourty. “We are putting the offense in a shootout every week.”
There have even been calls for Matt Patricia, Belichick’s long-time defensive lieutenant, to get the boot so the situation has reached a critical juncture with Brady simply unable to keep bailing them out.
It is a tough test up next in Florida as well with just a four-day turnaround against a youthful Buccaneers organisation which possesses an offense well capable of exploiting the Pats’ problems.
They scrambled over the line on Sunday in a 25-23 victory over the New York Giants as Nick Folk somehow steeled himself after three missed field goals on the day to slot home the crucial kick from 34 yards.
A 2-1 record (they have played one less fixture after their opener at Miami was postponed) is a solid start but they do lack a bit of polish as exciting quarterback Jameis Winston has the tendency to miss an easy pass or open receiver that would help make his job a little bit easier.
It was the case once more against the Giants and is the basis for a wager in this game with speedy wide receiver DeSean Jackson worth backing to score a touchdown.
The former Philadelphia and Washington burner showed his frustration on the sideline after he failed to haul in a two-point conversion while Winston on three other occasions was unable to deliver a catchable ball in his direction, one of which would have been a touchdown.
“We have to get him (Jackson) involved more as he is a dynamic playmaker,” said Tampa head coach Dirk Koetter, and this could be the perfect scenario for a player signed to a US$30.5million contract over the summer to really make a statement while New England attempt to iron out some of their issues.
If you like your trends, then Brady boasts a 6-0 all-time record on Thursdays with just four days of recovery while, since 2003, the Pats are 43-6 following a loss as Belichick and company have consistently shown an ability to move on from a below-par performance.
Their current problems seem more deep-rooted and the hosts have a good opportunity to keep this one close down the stretch, but a six-point contribution from Jackson is the way to go when it comes to an investment.
Prediction: New England 28-26 Tampa Bay
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Posted at 1215 BST on 04/10/17.