BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots will play their third game in 11 days on Thursday night when they take on the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.

That’s not exactly a recipe for success for a defense that has struggled as much as New England’s at the quarter mark of the season, but it’s the task at hand for the Patriots as they look to bounce back from their last-second defeat at the hands of the Carolina Panthers.

Will the Patriots avoid dropping under .500 on the season? Check out the predictions for Thursday night’s game from the CBS Boston sports team:

Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports

Not only are the Patriots a hungry bunch, but they’re an angry team. We are about to see what they’re made of, and I wouldn’t recommend betting against them.

Tom Brady and company are on a mission to make a run. Yes, the defense has struggled, but this week they have simplified things. So look for the Patriots to come out victorious down in Tampa.

It won’t be easy and they know it. But it’s not about Tampa Bay; it’s about themselves.

Patriots 34, Buccaneers 24

Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports

It’s easy to worry about this game simply because of the lousy play of the Patriots defense the past two weeks and the quick turnaround from Sunday. They haven’t had much time to work on anything.

But, I tend to think the secondary will go into a “play, don’t think” mode. They’ll keep it as basic as they can and hope to play well enough to win. Tom Brady and the offense are healthy, so I like the Pats to win it.

Patriots 35, Buccaneers 24

Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports

The Patriots defense is at a tipping point. They are last in pretty much every defensive stat you can name.

This game isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about getting back some championship respect. The Pats defense is being run over.

So if you believe everything the players say in the locker room, Tampa will be their redemption. Don’t expect the Pats to be All-World defenders all of a sudden, but maybe they’ll clean up the small things and that will make a difference.

The offense should still be able to do their thing, and I expect the Pats will get a much-needed victory in Tampa.

Patriots 30, Buccaneers 24

Adam Kaufman, 98.5 The Sports Hub/WBZ NewsRadio 1030

The Patriots have something to prove. We know it. They know it. So do the Buccaneers. And, historically, that should mean an ugly night for the home team in Tampa. Even the short week won’t be a hindrance.

New England’s defense continues to preach the need for communication, and that’ll be extra important against the league’s third-ranked passing attack, led by third-year standout Jameis Winston. The QB is averaging 278 yards per game for his 2-1 club, helped by an array of talented pass-catchers. The Bucs have yet to display an impressive run-game, but will have Doug Martin back for the first time this season.

Most important, the Pats are healthy. They’ll figure it out. They always do.

Patriots 27, Buccaneers 17

Mike “Sarge” Riley, 98.5 The Sports Hub/WBZ NewsRadio 1030

Ugh, Thursday night football. I, like many, can’t stand the short week.

Just what the worst defense in the NFL needs: A short week, travel and the return of Doug Martin. I’m not saying he’s the difference maker, but he’s got to be licking his chops to go up against the defending Super Bowl champs.

Speaking of running, that’s out for the Patriots in this game. The Bucs are second in the league against the run (the Broncos are first), allowing an average of just under three yards per carry.

On the opposite side, this is a great opportunity for Tom Brady to torch the Bucs D on their home field, a defense that is allowing an average of 315 passing yards per game. With Gronk likely seeing plenty of double coverage again, this should open things up for Chris Hogan, Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola and even James White.

A 3-2 record looks a lot better than 2-3, but please, #JustStayHealthy!

Patriots 28, Buccaneers 27

Tune in to Patriots-Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football on WBZ-TV and 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship stations of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins on 98.5FM at 5:30pm with full postgame coverage after the game. WBZ-TV kicks off their coverage with Patriots GameDay at 7pm, and switch over to myTV38 after the game to catch Patriots Fifth Quarter!


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