The Buccaneers take on the Patriots on Thursday night, a very tough test for a team that has been shaky thus far. The team has a lengthy injury report and will need to play well in order to come out with a win against the defending champs. Let’s take a look at what the team has to do in order to come out on top:

1) Sustain drives

The Bucs are taking on a tough Patriots team that is quarterbacked by Tom Brady. Brady is one of the best to ever play the game and will be a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Given this, and the team’s lengthy injury report, it will be very important for the offense to sustain drives. This puts a lot of pressure on Jameis Winston and the rest of the offense to take time off the clock, letting the defensive players rest. The Bucs can do this with an effective mix of run and pass, which may be easier to do with the return of Doug Martin. The team as a whole can not afford quick three-and-outs, they need to chew clock and sustain scoring drives.

2) Shutdown the run game

The Patriots offense is dangerous in the passing game thanks the strong quarterback play. That said, it is very important for the Bucs defense to be able to stop the run effectively without putting a lot of men in the box. The ability of the Bucs defensive front to shut down the run game will allow them to drop more men into coverage, making it tough for the Patriots to throw the ball effectively. The more players the team is able to put into coverage the better, it will force Brady to throw the ball into tighter windows.

3) Run the ball

The Patriots have been very poor against the run this season and the Bucs must exploit this flaw. If the team can run effectively in the early-going, it will open big plays for Winston in the passing game. Also, running the ball may become crucial if the Bucs can get out to an early lead. If they take the lead, they must run the ball and chew as much clock as possible in order to prevent reverting possession back to Brady and the Pats.

Thursday night’s game will likely be a battle, but I like the Bucs chances more if they are able to control possession and run the ball effectively. They stand their best chances of taking down the defending champs if they can do these key things, mostly doing so to neutralize Tom Brady.

– Andrew Kelly is the Managing Editor for and covers the Los Angeles Rams. He also writes national and fantasy content for cover32. Like and follow on

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