There is definitely no rest for the wicked in the NFL.
The Patriots will take the field at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay on Thursday night just 100 hours after Graham Gano’s kick handed the them their second loss of the season on Sunday in Foxborough. For a league vowing to keep player safety among their highest priorities, it’s truly remarkable that such abbreviated respites are permitted between three-hour, collision-riddled bouts between some of the worlds largest, strongest, and fastest athletes.
Nonetheless, we march onward. Here are three trends, or reasons, why the Patriots will be taking care of business in the Sunshine State.
Thursday road teams haven’t shown to be as disadvantaged as we thought
Setting aside the clear issue of player-safety, the popular narrative in recent years regarding Thursday night games has been that the quick turnaround is detrimental to on-field team performance — particularly for road teams who must devote a portion of their limited hours to travel instead of rest, recovery, and game preparation.
The numbers simply don’t support this.
There have been 21 games played on Thursdays since the beginning of the 2016 season, (so yes, Thanksgiving included). Road teams are 8-13 in those contests. Here are a few key numbers for the home and road teams against their season-long averages.
There’s a lot of numbers there, but as you can see, there are no dramatic shifts in any major statistic that corroborate the notion that road teams are at any more of a disadvantage than they typically are.
According to Pro Football Reference, since Thursday Night Football began in 2006, and including all Thanksgiving games, Thursday road teams have a winning percentage of 40%, as opposed to 43.4% in Sunday games. Over the 146 game sample since 2006, that is only a five-win decrease over the span of 10+ years.
The Patriots are lethal on the road the week after a loss
Following the team’s 42-27 loss to Andy Reid’s Chiefs in the home opener, the team subsequently rolled into New Orleans and delivered start-to-finish drubbing of the Saints. It’s the latest example of the profound success the team has had when on the road in weeks following a loss. It’s a trend you likely have already heard discussed this week, but it absolutely bears mentioning as the team finds themselves in the same circumstance on Thursday night.
Since 2008, the Patriots are 14-3 in road games following a loss the previous week. Their three losses were by a combined 12 points, with two coming at the hands of the Miami Dolphins. In the 14 wins, they average 32.3 points scored and their margin of victory is 15.2 points. Another notable figure: They are 5-0 against NFC teams in this scenario.
Tom Brady, as you would expect, thrives in these scenarios:
- Record: 12-3 (two games were won by Matt Cassel in 2008)
- 65.3% completion rate
- 4,249 total passing yard — 283.27 per game
- 30 touchdowns, 7 interceptions
- 104.5 QB rating
Tampa Bay’s pass defense has been a hot mess for a while
Given the abhorrent play of the Patriots defense thus far in 2017, the tidal wave of local and national headlines is certainly deserved. But somewhat lost in this onslaught of public criticism is just how poorly Tampa Bay has defended the pass themselves — not only through three games this season, but since the beginning of 2016.
Some noteworthy 2016 figures:
- Passing yards per game: 250.8 — Rank: 22nd
- Opponent passer rating: 88.8 — Rank: 18th
- Totals points allowed: 369 — Rank: 15th
- 20+ yard passing plays: 58 — Rank: Tied 28th
- 40+ yard passing plays: 16 — Rank: Tied Last
This season, the Buccaneers’ defense has pick up right where they left off. In three games (two at home, one on the road), they’ve allowed 947 passing yards and seven total QB touchdowns while accumulating just a single sack. The three quarterbacks they’ve faced? Mike Glennon, Case Keenum, and Eli Manning.
A final stat line you’re sure to see plenty of on game day — Brady on Thursdays:
- Record: 9-2
- 62.03% completion rate
- 2,878 total passing yard — 261.2 per game
- 24 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
- 109.3 QB rating