There might not be a more intriguing game on the 2021 NFL schedule than this week’s Sunday night showdown between the Bucs and the Patriots. Tom Brady returns to Foxboro for the first time as a member of the visiting team and below we break it all down as we keep cashing our NFL picks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New England Patriots
Sunday, October 03, 2021 – 8:20 PM EDT at Gillette Stadium
The Bucs are coming off their first loss of the season and now they take to the highway to meet the Patriots at Tom Brady’s former home in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Tampa reeled off wins over the Cowboys and the Falcons before traveling to Los Angeles to meet one of their chief NFC rivals, the LA Rams.
Los Angeles opened as 1 .5 point home favorites by all the best online sportsbooks but the money poured in on the defending Super Bowl champion Bucs, and the game ultimately settled at a pick’em at kickoff. The Bucs quickly found out this is a much more potent LA Rams offense with Matthew Stafford pulling the trigger, as opposed to the more placid Jared Goff whose style is more of a game-manager than a game-changer.
Stafford torched the Bucs for 343 yards and four touchdown strikes while Brady countered with 432 yards but only one TD pass. Stafford connected on over 71 percent of his passes while Brady was accurate north of 74 percent when the day was done.
“We got off to a slow start, so anytime you do that you’re fighting behind all day, and I think we played a good team that didn’t turn the ball over,” Brady said.
Patriots Stumble Below .500
Things are not looking good in Foxboro these days after the Patriots dropped their most recent game, a 28-13 loss to the Saints. New England was anticipating the Jameis Winston of old, slinging passes to wherever there might be a trace of an open receiver but, as often as not, ending up in the hands of an opposing defensive back.
But the man barking signals under center may have looked like that guy but he certainly didn’t play like him as Winston ended with a mere 128 yards but more importantly, two touchdown passes and zero interceptions.
Conversely, Mac Jones, the rookie who has taken such care in not throwing the ball too far or too often, tossed three interceptions including a pick-six, ending his day with 270 yards passing
and one touchdown. It was one of those days for the Patriots where the offense was stuck in neutral and the running game was nowhere to be found, having totaled just 49 yards with Jones getting 28 of those yards.
“I think it just goes back to execution,” Jones said. “I can do a better job just sticking to my reads and being patient and letting things develop. I didn’t do a good job of that today.”
To add insult to injury, literally, James White was carted off the field with a hip injury with 11:23 left in the second quarter and will be out for the foreseeable future.
Wanna Make a Bet?
The Bucs were none too happy about their loss and they decided to jump to the head of the line in the Richard Sherman Sweepstakes and sign the veteran defensive back to their roster. And while no one expects the Legion of Boom iteration of Sherman, having a veteran presence can be nothing but a boon to a secondary that has given up the most passing yards this season. Sherman is expected to suit up on Sunday.
Everyone is hopping aboard the Bucs bandwagon in this one and it wouldn’t surprise me if the NFL odds on this game continue to climb. The main thing that scares me is that Joe Q. Public is betting the rent on the Bucs and anytime I’m on the same side as the public…I’m nervous.
But I cannot envision a scenario in which Mac Jones wins a toe-to-toe battle against the greatest passer ever, especially one who has an ax to grind against his old coach. And it’s not like the Patriots can run against the Bucs because as bad as their pass defense has been, their run defense has been among the best in the league.
Mac Jones won’t even have play-action going for him because the Bucs will be begging the Pats to run the ball. And if Jones throws, so be it, he won’t beat Brady at that game. Be a square and bet the Bucs!
Free NFL Pick: Bucs -7 (-105) at Bet365