Date/Time: September 22nd, 1:00 PM ET
Spread: New England -7.5
Week 3 of the NFL season is here! With all of the games on the docket each and every week, we are going to be zeroing in on just one side or total that we think is the best of the bunch. Join us today, look at the game on Sunday, September 22nd between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots.
We had the right idea last week with the San Diego Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles but came out on the wrong side of things in the end. Still, we’re 4-1 ATS including college and the pros this year with our favorite picks of the week, and this week, we’re gunning at the Pats and the Bucs.
New England has been awfully bad this year, and it doesn’t take a genius to see that this team is nowhere near as good as it was last season or in years past. Yes, the Patriots are 2-0, but they rank 22nd in the NFL in total offense at 331.5 yards per game, 21st in passing offense at 225.5 yards per game, and 25th in points scored at 18.0 points per game. None of that is going to cut it, and the truth of the matter is that the only reason the team is 2-0 and not 0-2 is because it played against the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets.
When you look at the stats for QB Tom Brady, you have to just shake your head as well. He’s completing just 52.7 percent of his passes with a 74.1 quarterback rating. Brady has three TDs and a pick, and he is averaging just 5.2 yards per pass attempt, off 2.4 yards per throw from where he was last season.
But then again, look at all of the balls that he has had dropped. WR Aaron Dobson is the only receiver in the game to drop four passes this year, while WR Julian Edelman has a pair of drops and WR Kenbrell Thompkins has a drop (on what would have been a touchdown, no less). Throw in there the drop on a screen pass that RB Shane Vereen had in Week 1, and that’s eight drops on just 91 pass attempts. All of last season, Patriots receivers only dropped 29 balls on 637 pass attempts.
Help is on the way on two fronts, though. First off, practice time is going to help out a lot. We know that Edelman is on the same page as Brady, and you can bet that starting on Friday when the team got back to work, all the way through kickoff on Sunday, Brady is going to be working with Thompkins and Dobson to get them on the same page as well. Remember that it was a long week of preparation as well for this one after playing the Thursday Night Football game against the Jets in Week 2.
The other help is going to come from TE Rob Gronkowski. Gronk should be back in this game after some offseason surgeries kept him out for quite some time, and what we have proven this year is that it isn’t just any given tight end that can step into this offense and produce. Tight ends have a grand total of one catch on the season for New England thus far, and for a team that completed 116 passes to tight ends last season, that’s tremendously bad news.
What else is going to help this week is the fact that Tampa Bay is a wreck offensively as well. QB Josh Freeman is reportedly set to ask for a trade, and there is a power struggle going on in the front office between the demanding Head Coach Greg Schiano and GM Mark Domenik. The time is here to part ways with all of this mess in all likelihood. Freeman is completing just 45% of his passes this season, and Tampa Bay has the second worst passing attack in the league. WR Vincent Jackson has 12 catches for 231 yards. The rest of the team combined has 12 catches for 104 yards in two games.
Now, Tampa Bay has played two very good defensive games, holding down the potent New Orleans Saints and the aforementioned Jets to 337.5 yards per game and a total of just 34 points. However, Mother Nature had a lot to do with that in Week 2 against New Orleans, and this game is on the road, not at home.
Finally, we have to look back at the preseason this year for an indication of what is going to happen in this game. Yes, it’s just the preseason, but Brady went 11-of-12 with a touchdown and a two-point conversion in Week 2 of the preseason this year. Give Brady a long week to prepare, and bad things could happen to the opposition. This is a game that just screams to be a double digit victory for New England, and perhaps the beginning of the end of Schiano, Freeman, and the soon to be 0-3 Buccaneers.
Week 3 NFL Pick of the Week: New England Patriots -7.5
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.