Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) at New England Patriots (1-2)
This is arguably the most anticipated regular season matchup of all time with Tom Brady returning to New England with his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in Tom Brady’s first season in Tampa Bay, thanks to the support of a strong supporting cast that was legitimately a quarterback away before Brady’s arrival, while the Patriots have struggled to find success, going 7-9 in a rebuilding year last season and starting this season a disappointing 1-2, including a pair of home losses as favorites, despite a big off-season addition of talent.
The Patriots could easily be 2-1 right now though, as they won the first down rate (+2.56%) and yards per play (+0.63) battle in a 1-point home loss to the Dolphins, a game in which they fumbled away two likely scoring drives. Their loss to the Saints last week looked bad, but it’s very possible they were caught looking forward to this game. The same could also be true of the Buccaneers, who lost last week in Los Angeles to the Rams, but the Buccaneers were also playing a better team, which explains their loss more, and overall I think this game is more meaningful for the Patriots, who still have many former teammates and coaches of Tom Brady, while the Buccaneers only have a few former Patriots.
I do expect a strong effort from the Buccaneers because they are coming off a loss and Tom Brady is 47-22 ATS all-time after a loss, which is what deters me from betting on the Patriots in a big way, but that record is not as impressive as touchdown or more favorites on the road and this line has shot up to seven in the aftermath of last week’s results, with the public and odds makers clearly souring on the Patriots more than the Buccaneers. My calculated line is Tampa Bay -4, so we’re getting enough line value for the Patriots to be at least worth a play at +7. This bet would probably increase if the Patriots finally got right tackle Trent Brown back healthy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 New England Patriots 23
Pick against the spread: New England +7