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Patriots vs. Buccaneers 2017: Start time, TV schedule for 'Thursday Night Football'

Expect fireworks between two teams who’ve struggled with defense in 2017.

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NFL: Carolina Panthers at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady has thrown for more yards than anyone else in the NFL, but a Swiss cheese defense has his Patriots languishing at 2-2. New England will have the chance to get back on track — and avoid a rare two-game losing streak — when it travels to Tampa for a Thursday Night Football showdown with the Buccaneers starting at 8:30 p.m. ET and broadcast live on NFL Network/CBS in local markets (live stream).

Brady is on pace to set a new single-season passing mark after throwing for a shade under 350 yards per game in the Patriots’ otherwise unimpressive start. He’ll square off against a Buccaneer defense that got shredded by Case Keenum for 369 yards and three touchdowns in Week 3. Will the future Hall of Famer do enough to overcome New England’s sieve of a passing defense?

Time, TV channel, and streaming info

  • Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
  • TV: NFL Network (CBS in local markets)
  • Streaming: Amazon Prime
  • Odds: New England is favored by 5 points.

Patriots at Buccaneers news:

It’s a stunning turnaround for a team that boasts All-Pro defenders like Malcolm Butler, Dont’a Hightower, and Devin McCourty. The Patriots have made slumping passers look like a prime Peyton Manning while giving up more passing yards than anyone in the league. New England’s inability to get late stops cost the team victories over the Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers. Without Tom Brady’s fourth-quarter magic, it would have sunk the Pats against Houston as well.

The veteran running back is finally done with his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. He went to rehab earlier this year, was a full participant this offseason, and looked good in preseason — so the Bucs are likely to give him his starting job back.

Thing is, what’s killing this defense and setting records (and not the good kind) isn’t a lack of talent, it’s the same thing that people have clowned on the Saints about for years. To hear the team tell it, the guys either don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing, or they all think they’re supposed to be doing something other than what they’re actually supposed to be doing ... which, as you can guess, means that someone’s not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

The NFL doesn’t think the Bucs are that much better than they were last week, though. Understandable given the fact that that game was far too close for comfort— unnecessarily so, given the amount of points left on the field with missed kicks and red zone issues.

McCourty has played nearly every single defensive snap this year, including every snap over the past three weeks, while Chung has seen his snaps decline from 97% in week 2 to 73% in week 3, and just 54% against the Panthers.

Which Jameis Winston will show up in prime time?

Winston’s third season as a pro has started on a roller coaster track. He was solid but subdued in a romp over the hapless Bears, then threw three bad interceptions in Minnesota to even the team’s record at 1-1. In Week 4, he took advantage of another bad team — this time the Giants — to throw for 332 yards and three touchdowns without committing a turnover. The young passer has been inconsistent, but has shown he’s got the tools to be one of the league’s top quarterbacks.

Of course, given the Patriots’ predilection of giving up 300-yard games through the air, recent history suggests he’ll have one of the best nights of his career on Thursday.

Patriots at Buccaneers prediction:

Every one of our NFL experts went with the Patriots in their Week 5 NFL picks except Stephen White, former defensive end for the Buccaneers. OddsShark’s computer, however, agreed that Tampa Bay will win.

Tony Romo is pretty good at his new broadcasting job