ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI), which ranks games on a scale of 1-100 based on quality of teams and projected closeness of the final score, has given the opening game of Week 5 between Tampa Bay and New England a matchup quality of 82, edging out a Sunday Night Football contest between undefeated Kansas City and Houston for the Game of the Week.*
The FPI lists New England as the slight favorite, with a win projection of 58 percent despite the Patriots' drop to seven in the most recent NFL Power Rankings. Quarterback Tom Brady still ranks second in the league with a 75.6 Total QBR and the Patriots' offensive FPI value continues to be better than any other offense in the league, the article cites.
However, ESPN pinpoints the Buccaneers special teams as a difference maker for Tampa Bay as the unit is the most efficient of any team in the league. A strong showing by the Bucs defense to contain the Patriots' offense, coupled with that efficiency on special teams, should bode well for Tampa Bay.*
*Other factors taken into consideration by the FPI in game predictions are team strength, opponent strength, home-field advantage, on-field performance in previous games and rest. Given that both teams are on short rest but New England will be making the trek to Tampa, tap the Bucs to hold a slight advantage in that regard. *
*To read the full article on ESPN.com, click here.