Two of the more recognisable teams in the NFL 2023 season open up week eight of the campaign on Thursday night when the Buffalo Bills welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what doesn’t look like the battle it might have done when selected for primetime coverage.
Tampa Bay head to Buffalo 3-3 for their season and in second place in their division while the Bills are a game better off at 4-3 and are also trailing one team in their section so both will know there isn’t a huge amount of room for defeat here.
The Buffalo Bills looked to be going great guns when they won three of their opening four matches this season but then came a fruitless trip to London where they were unconvincing and they haven’t really been able to break out from there. They have won one and lost one since then but they were underwhelming in victory against the New York Giants and had a bit of a mare in losing to the New England Patriots last week.
We can probably excuse their defence struggling a little bit. The backfield in particular has been decimated in recent weeks and Von Miller is still getting back up to speed after an injury but there can be no real defence of the slow starts the offense are making. Whether he is carrying a niggle of some sort only he will know but Josh Allen has taken far too long in too many matches to get up to speed. If he can hit the ground running here it will help the defence which should lead to a more comfortable night.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also opened up this season with a 3-1 record as they look to rebuild after the Tom Brady era. Baker Mayfield had started out life in acceptable fashion rather than anything special and the Bucs headed into their bye week in decent order but they have come out of it very flat and really need to find a win on the road, something that is never easy in these Thursday night games with the lack of preparation time.
The offense has certainly underperformed in those two recent defeats. A loss to the Detroit Lions probably isn’t a season defining one this term but scoring only six points off a bye week would certainly have raised some doubts. A home defeat to division rivals Atlanta Falcons is much more of an issue and they only scored 13 points in that. The positive is that their defence is working well at the minute so if their offense does come to the party the Bucs should be in good shape but they might need it to here because the Buffalo offense is a mean one.
This Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense has clearly got some work to do but the genie in the bottle might arrive for them here because this Buffalo Bills defence is very much shorthanded because of injuries and off the back of a short week you would imagine the longer they are on the field the more joy Baker Mayfield and his side will have. That makes me think that Mike Evans could be a leading light here up against a bashed up secondary.
To be fair, even when the Bills are at full strength their secondary takes plenty of risks in going hunting for the ball and that sometimes leads to the better wide receivers exposing them. Clearly Evans is one of those and his receiving yards line of 56.5 is very interesting here. Evans has 468 yards in the six matches the Bucs have played this season, covering this line in four of those outings. The two he didn’t were when he caught three and four passes but he will surely be involved much more than that here and against a second string backfield that is playing more zone coverage than man to man stuff I think Evans can get free and cover this line comfortably.
Back M.Evans – Over 56.5 receiving yards for a 3/10 stake at 1.90 with Coral