The Buccaneers are coming off two heart-breaking losses; one at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, the other against the New York Jets. The New England Patriots are coming off their win versus the New York Jets, but it wasn’t any more convincing than Tampa’s loss to that same team.
So let’s breakdown their common opponent: The New York Jets.
Tampa was in no way effective in the passing game. Josh Freeman completed less than 50 percent of his passes for just 210 yards. The offensive line didn’t help him or Doug Martin as was evident in Martin’s production: 65 yards on 24 carries. It seemed to be just a slow day for the Bucs offense, and whether you want to blame the slow start on the unbalanced chemistry due to lack of playing time together or blame the players in general, they still were able to put up just 17 points with only three points scored in the entire second half.
On defense, the Bucs did give up 256 yards to Geno Smith through the air, but held the team less than 100 yards rushing as a whole (get used to hearing that). The good news is the Bucs recorded five sacks in their first game which was already near one-fifth their total sacks last year.
Now, how did New England fair?
The won the game, so that’s a big change, but it certainly wasn’t a runaway victory.
With Danny Amendola still out, Tom Brady struggled to get any kind of connection with receivers not named Julian Edelman. The Jets also held Brady to less than 50 percent of his passes completed, and held Steven Ridley to just 40 yards. Geno Smith threw for 200 yards again, but this time threw more costly interceptions which resulted in the New England win.
Surprisingly enough, I like the Bucs’ chances in this game. Darrelle Revis will blanket Julian Edelman, and even beyond that, knows Brady well after playing against him twice a year in New York as a Jet himself. There’s a possibility Rob Gronkowski could be back for New England this week, and if that’s the case, Lavonte David and Dashon Goldson will have responsibility like they had with Jimmy Graham the week before. Unfortunately for Tampa, as I predicted, Graham went off for 179 yards and a score.
But the story of the day won’t be about stopping Brady — as odd as that sounds — it’s going to about Freeman and the Bucs discipline. Carl Nicks should be back for the Bucs, and that’s a major plus. The Bucs are averaging a little over 11 penalties per game, and that’s juts not acceptable. I’m hoping for six; that’s reasonable, right? I think if Tampa limits their turnovers, and takes advantage of a weak, WEAK secondary in New England, they have a chance to tip the series scale which is currently favoring the Patriots in five of the last seven times these teams have met in the regular season.
Prediction: Brady throws for 250 yards, Ridley rushes for 60. Freeman throws for 200 yards, Martin rushes for 125. Tampa gets two takeaways, New England only gets one.
Tampa wins 21-17 — barring any dreadful penalties…..
(I may regret that)