On Sunday night, the Greatest of All Time makes his return to New England to face the Patriots as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yes, tight end Rob Gronkowski will look to light up the scoreboard against his former coach Bill Belichick. Tom Brady will also be there at quarterback.
Let’s see which team goes into our NFL picks for this matchup.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New England Patriots
Sunday, October 03, 2021 – 08:20 PM EDT at Gillette Stadium
The Buccaneers are a 7-point favorite at many of the top sportsbooks. Neither team has played a close game since Week 1, and both are coming off bad losses in Week 3 where both quarterbacks were the leading rushers for their teams. Tampa Bay still has a lot of firepowers while the Patriots have failed to hit 17 points in both home games this year.
Does Belichick have anything special up his sleeve in this matchup to stop Brady from dropping 40-plus points?
Is “Angry Tom Brady” a Real Thing?
From a matchup standpoint, this one is really no contest when it comes to the Tampa Bay offense and the New England defense. The Patriots have played three of the most limited passing games in the league right now in the Dolphins, Jets, and Saints. This is why the numbers look so good defensively, and this will change once they start playing better offenses instead of the weakest slate in the league so far.
Enter the Buccaneers, who have the most loaded collection of skill players in the league right now as they expect to have Gronkowski (ribs) and Antonio Brown (COVID-19) available for this one to give them their most potent arsenal. Yes, Brady and Belichick know each other well, but the talent on the field for Tampa Bay still blows away what the Patriots have to offer in this game. Even if Belichick’s defense has a reasonably good performance, it should still not be that difficult for the Buccaneers to have a 27-17 type of win.
The narrative I want to test this week is the existence of “Angry Tom Brady” as he is a notorious sore loser and rarely will let his team go on a losing streak. He was caught with some colorful swear words on the sidelines Sunday as the Rams led by 17 points in the fourth quarter. You know he already had this game circled on the schedule, but last week’s loss to snap Tampa Bay’s winning streak is just going to add fuel to his fire.
But does the data support Brady being an absolute monster to deal with when he’s coming off a loss?
The answer is yes for his team’s dominance, but not so much for his statistics. I looked at data on 66 quarterbacks from 2001-2020 in starts following a team loss and how they performed that next game. Here are the findings:
- Brady is 55-16 SU (.775) after a loss, the second-best record behind only Russell Wilson (35-9, .795).
- Brady is 49-22 ATS (.690) after a loss, the second-best record behind only Andrew Luck (24-9-1, .721).
- Brady’s team has the highest scoring differential (10.3 points per game) following a loss, and only Wilson (9.1), Aaron Rodgers (8.2), and Luck (7.0) are even close.
- Out of 66 quarterbacks, Brady ranks 21st in completion percentage (63.4%), 23rd in yards per attempt (7.26), 10th in passer rating (96.3), and 10th in adjusted net yards per attempt (6.95) after a loss.
- If you only look at Brady’s post-loss games since 2011 when league passing stats have gone up, his passing stats all decrease but his team still wins 76.3% of games and covers 71.1% (27-11 ATS) of the time.
Belichick deserves a lot of credit for getting the team prepared after a loss for so many years. With Bruce Arians as his coach in Tampa Bay last year, Brady was 4-1 after a loss with each win by at least 12 points.
The Buccaneers had a bye week after losing a pair of 27-24 games to the Rams and Chiefs last year to get sorted out for that Super Bowl run where they never lost again until last Sunday in Los Angeles. We’ll see if Arians and Brady get back on track quickly in New England.
Mac Jones: The Spoiler?
Mac Jones outdueling Tom Brady in primetime is probably the biggest pipe dream of Week 4. The rookie was better in a Week 1 loss to the Dolphins than he was in a Week 2 win against the Jets, and on Sunday against the Saints, half of the 28 points New Orleans scored were basically thanks to his interceptions as he played his worst game yet.
Jones is not getting the ball down the field and the Patriots rank 25th in both yards and points per drive. No offense has been worse in the red zone as the Patriots are just 2-for-8 at scoring touchdowns there, though the huge fumble Damien Harris had in the red zone in Week 1 was not Jones’ fault.
The talent disparity between these teams has only grown this week. Receiving back James White is second in the team in catches (12), but he will likely miss the rest of the season with a hip injury. The Buccaneers signed corner Richard Sherman this week and he reportedly will play on Sunday night. The Patriots have two touchdown passes this season and leading wideout Jakobi Meyers is still looking for his first career touchdown despite 104 receptions since 2019.
Tampa Bay needed to sign Sherman after injuries are mounting in the secondary. The defense is still very talented, but the performance has not been up to a championship level yet. The Buccaneers have allowed three 300-yard passers and nine touchdown passes while only getting three sacks so far.
Jones will have chances to make plays in this game, but at this stage of his career, it is impossible to trust him to keep up with a veteran team like the Buccaneers.
Since 2020, the Patriots have lost six games by more than seven points, including three home games. That matches the three home losses by more than seven points that Brady finished with the Patriots from 2007 through 2019.
Those glory days are over for the Patriots. They now must contend with teams that are simply better than them, if not significantly better. When the Bills went into New England in Week 16 last year, they made a statement with a 38-9 win in prime time. This is Buffalo’s division now. No one should be surprised if Brady has a similar statement game in this one against Belichick.
I love Tampa Bay to cover as well as a touchdown for Gronkowski to close out your NFL picks this Sunday.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.