Friday, Aug.16, 8 p.m. (ET)
Pointspread: New England -3
Total Line: 42
Tampa Bay finished the 2012 season with a 7-9 record straight up and it was 9-6-1 against the spread. Despite the fact that the Buccaneers play in the same division as Atlanta and New Orleans, they remain more than confident that they can successfully compete for the NFC South title this season. They may want to reevaluate those plans after last Thursday’s 44-16 loss to Baltimore as three-point home favorites in their first preseason game.
If the Bucs have any shot at avoiding a 0-2 start to the preseason they are going to have to generate more than 273 yards of offense against New England. All eyes this season are on quarterback Josh Freeman as many believe this will be a make or break season as far as his future with the team. In very limited action against the Ravens, he completed 4-of-7 attempts for 34 yards. He should get a chance to play most of the first half on Friday night.
New England faced Philadelphia in its first preseason game and, in what may be a sign of the current times, the Patriots ran the ball six-straight times in their opening drive to take an early 7-0 lead. Overall, they racked-up 248 yards on the ground against a very porous Eagles’ defense while gaining just 194 yards through the air. New England went on to win the game 31-22 as a three-point road underdog.
Look for Tom Brady to throw more than eight passes against Tampa Bay, but he still looked sharp completing seven of those attempts for 65 yards and a touchdown. Both Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount ran the ball extremely well last Friday night so you can expect another heavy dose of this duo in this game against what should be a much tougher test. Tampa Bay’s defense finished the 2012 season ranked first in the NFL against the run.
Both team’s starters should play into the second half in this matchup which gives a clear edge to New England, especially since it is playing at home. The Patriots may not run up 31 points like they did last week, but they will score enough to cover the three-point spread.
New England 27 Tampa Bay 20
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.