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Week Five Thursday Night Pick

October 5th, 2017

First time I’ve had to do this in 2017.

I’m not wrapping up my picks before the Thursday night kickoff. It’s just been that kind of week.

I had my usual glorious outing in week four, finishing 11-5 straight up (not thoroughly awful, I suppose), 7-9 against the spread (pretty thoroughly awful there). For the young season, that gets me to 38-25 (.603) straight up, 29-34 (.460) against the spread.

Let’s if I can avoid making things worse for at least one night.

New England (-5) at Tampa Bay
This game features the two best quarterbacks in the NFL: Tom Brady and whoever’s facing the New England defense. It really is that bad right now. Not only have the Patriots allowed 32 points on average through their first four games, but their defensive passer rating is a league-worst 116.5. Given those facts, it’s pretty astonishing — and, really, a tribute to Brady, who is playing perhaps the best football of his career — that the team sits at 2-2 right now. You shouldn’t be able to win games playing defense that poorly. You also shouldn’t be able to win games when your O line consistently allows defenders into the backfield. What Brady has accomplished so far this season becomes even more astonishing when you consider that he’s been sacked 13 times on 116 drops back (7.7%), and hurried or hit a good bit more still. None of the Patriots success is sustainable without something changing. And it’s incredibly unlikely that the team has been able to solve its defensive and O line problems (or, you know, the continuing issues with special teams) in the four days since they fell to the mighty Carolina Panthers in Foxborough, their second home loss of the season. So, yeah, giving five seems like a bit of stretch, doesn’t it? I mean, depending on where you’re sitting, a straight-up win by a struggling squad traveling on short rest might seem like a bit of a stretch. I think if you’re rooting for the Pats, you have to look at the fact that the Buccaneers defense through its first three games managed just a single sack on 128 drops back by opposing quarterbacks. If they can’t improve on that, Brady and company might be able to put up 42. And that might make keeping up too much even for the second best quarterback in football, Jameis Winston. I’m taking New England, but I’m not sure I’d give three, let alone five.

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