Week 4 Game of the Week: New England Patriots vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Photo credit: skysports.com

The Ninety-Nine Yards team are back with us here at Belushi’s with Stuart Anderson who has been a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan since 2012.

For the second week running, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are featured in the Game of the Week. In Week 3, the Bucs game was circled as a potential NFC Championship clash against the Los Angeles Rams, however, Tampa are in the spotlight again but for very different reasons.

The Week 4 Game of the Week features a match-up between two of only five NFL teams who have won multiple Super Bowl titles in the 21st Century; the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The back story

The Patriots won their first Super Bowl in 2001 which was the start of a Dynasty that lasted for two decades. The Bucs first Lombardi trophy was in 2002 and was the sole highlight amongst almost two decades of despair. But this game is beyond multiple Super Bowl Champions facing off against each other. This is long term Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick against long term ex-Patriots Quarterback, and current Buccaneers Quarterback, Tom Brady.

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The Patriots success coincided with the start of Brady’s NFL career. In 2001, Brady took over in New England after the starting Quarterback got injured in a regular-season game against the New York Jets. In stepped the inexperienced back-up who grabbed the opportunity with both hands and the NFL was never the same. Under the tutelage of Patriots Head Coach and football encyclopaedia, Bill Belichick, New England dominated the NFL. Between 2001 and 2019, the Patriots had appeared in nine Super Bowls winning six of them. Unparalleled success for a Head Coach and Quarterback tandem. The question which always surrounded the acclaimed pair was could they win without each other?

Well one of them has answered that question in emphatically by leading the Buccaneers to last year’s Super Bowl title. Despite winning the Super Bowl in 2002, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers struggled to build on that success and slowly declined throughout the Noughties. Their slump was to such an extent that during the last decade, they held the distinction of being the most losing franchise in not only the NFL but across all of the four major sports leagues; NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB.

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Sorry times for Tampa Bay until they signed Tom Brady during the Free Agency period last year. Despite a slow start to last season, the Bucs and Brady went undefeated from Week 12 onwards resulting in Tampa winning their second Vince Lombardi trophy in February this year. Up until last Sunday’s defeat against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3, Tampa was on a ten-game unbeaten run with the last nine of those wins earning the Bucs a place in the record books due to being the first team to win nine games on the bounce whilst scoring 30 plus points per game.

The Patriots have struggled since Brady's departure. Last year was the first time since 2008 that New England didn’t make the Post-Season. For a team that had played in more than 50% of Super Bowls this Millennium, missing the Post-Season was unthinkable. Coincidentally, in that 2008 season, the Patriots lost Brady to a serious knee injury in the opening game of the season. Put simply for New England, despite the NFL being the ultimate team game it was a case of no Brady, no success.

How it’s looking this season

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So can the Patriots prove they can succeed without their former talisman under centre? From what’s been on show this season, New England has struggled during the first three weeks. Good but not great on Defense, it’s the Offensive side of the ball which may well prove to be the Patriots weakness this season. With rookie Quarterback, Mac Jones, calling the shots, New England have struggled to move the ball downfield. Unfortunately for the rookie signal-caller, he will be facing one of the top defensive units in the league when the Bucs come to Foxboro. Although Tampa is weakened in the Secondary due to injuries, Tampa’s Defensive Line and Linebackers should prove too much for the Patriots Offense.

Tampa is scoring points for fun. Tom Brady has started the season like a man possessed and shows no signs of slowing down. Brady is averaging over 350 passing yards per game and over three touchdown passes per game. The former Foxboro idol is playing as good as he has ever done and loving life with his new team.

The key to success

The key to the Patriots success in this game is simple; stop Tom Brady. The Bucs’ run game is non-existent. Stop Tom Brady and you more than likely win the game. Fortunately for New England, Belichick is a Defensive guru who will make sure that his team is as prepared as they will ever be to stop the Bucs.

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As a footnote, just to compound the misery of seeing their legendary Quarterback in his new team’s colours, Patriots fans will also witness Brady surpass Drew Brees at the top of the All-Time Passing Yards chart. 68 passing yards is all that Brady needs to break the record in his former home. Talk about mixed emotions for the New England fans.

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This isn’t just Patriots against Buccaneers, this is Belichick against Brady, Master against Apprentice. Jedi against Padawan and it’s why it’s America’s and Belushi’s game of the week. And there's no better place to catch all the NFL action than Belushi's!

We’ll be showing all of the NFL action at Belushi’s, and we’d love to have you join us. At Belushi’s, we guarantee a good time, whether through its world-class sports screenings, live music, beer pong, and more. Find your nearest bar.

Don’t forget you can follow Stuart @Stuarty1973 and the @NinetyNineYards team on Twitter for the latest in NFL conversation, and of course, keep an eye out on the blog for fresh content from the team.