TB vs. NE Matchup Edge

Tampa Bay vs. New England

Open: 53.5 O/U, NE -5
Press time: 54 O/U, NE -5

The Patriots have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 69.7 percent of passes at 9.4 yards per attempt, with a touchdown percentage of 7.7. For the Buccaneers, the yardage and touchdowns have been contained at 7.5 YPA and a touchdown percentage of 4.7, but the completion percentage is still high at 67.7.

Jameis Winston finally got going in Week 4, and against a Giants defense with good personnel at corner. This Patriots defense has been prone to busted coverage so far, which is the last thing you need when DeSean Jackson is incoming. Mike Evans figures to be a problem no matter who they put on him, and the Patriots can only be so aggressive with double teams if Jackson is running on the same side of the field. Slot receiver Adam Humphries has 12 catches for 138 yards on 17 targets in the last two games, so he too could prove a problem for the Patriots.

O.J. Howard is the top tight end in Tampa Bay in terms of snaps, but he’s seeing fewer targets per snap (0.066) than Cameron Brate (0.131). Given that the Patriots gave up 23 catches for 262 yards and three touchdowns on 31 targets to opposing tight ends, either Buccaneers tight end is a candidate to produce if they get targets. Brate appears the better bet.

New England has also been friendly against opposing running backs, both on the ground and through the air. With Doug Martin’s conditioning a question following his suspension, Jacquizz Rodgers seems a fine bet to do something against a defense that’s allowed 5.4 yards per carry and 9.7 yards per target to running backs.

Dalvin Cook was able to run on Tampa, but the Bears and Giants running games were shut down, leaving opposing runners with just 196 yards and a touchdown on 72 carries. It doesn’t look like a favorable setting for Mike Gillislee, who’s struggled to approach four yards per carry a quarter of the way through the season. On the other hand, the Buccaneers will be without their dominant duo of linebackers, Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander.

It will in any case be interesting to see if Dion Lewis can continue stealing snaps from Gillislee after seeing three carries and a target in the red zone. Given that Gillislee hasn’t seen a target, his presence in the game generally tips off the Patriots’ rushing ambitions. The Patriots may investigate whether Lewis sees more favorable looks as a legitimate receiving threat.

Given that James White saw 12 of Tom Brady’s 45 passes against Carolina – a target share percentage of 26.7 after a figure of 12.7 in the first three games – you have to think the Patriots receivers might see a bigger share of the targets than they did last week. Brandin Cooks stands out as an obvious candidate. Chris Hogan has eight red-zone targets in the last three games and could very well end the season as the team’s top fantasy wideout, though. Although he plays fewer snaps than Cooks and Hogan, Danny Amendola has a high target rate per snap, with 19 in 100 snaps.

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Rob Gronkowski is also a candidate to see a higher target rate after seeing just five against Carolina, but who knows what to make of the thigh issue that landed him on the injury report Wednesday. If he’s at all himself, the beaten-up second level of the Tampa Bay defense could be particularly vulnerable to him.

Given how bad the two pass defenses in this game have been, it seems to me that the over/under might be a tad low. I’d guess it would take a big rushing workload for Jacquizz Rodgers for the under to hit.

(all line data from covers.com)