Though most years this would be a battle easily won by Tom Brady and his team, the Patriots are a weakened bunch, as Brady has lost his top targets. Wide receiver Wes Welker is gone, as is a certain tight end with off-the-field issues who shall remain nameless. Current Pats wide receiver Danny Amendola and tight end Rob Gronkowski will likely still be benched with injuries this week (Amendola is listed as doubtful, Gronkowski as questionable).
On the other side of the ball, the Bucs’ defense has been playing well, with an improved pass rush (they racked up 4 sacks on Drew Brees last week) and a hard-hitting mentality.
Plus, both teams have played the Jets this year, and the score differential was 3 points or less in each game.
It should be an evenly matched game.
On the other hand, the Bucs’ offense has been abysmal, with passing yardage currently ranked 31st in the league.
The Bucs have earned a whopping 23 penalties for 220 yards in the first two games of the year.
And, oh yeah, the team has turned into a media circus.
As a Bucs fan, there is nothing I would like more than for the Bucs to head to New England, win the game, and force the media to discuss something other than how much every person associated with the team hates every other person associated with the team.
Ironically, I used to bemoan the fact that the Bucs never got any press, that the media never discussed this small-market team that I love so dearly.
I take it back.
Of course, I understand the media’s perspective. It is an interesting story to tell when the head coach and the starting QB don’t get along. That is human drama.
But as a fan, the coverage has been exhausting.
Watching the team throw away a lead in literally the last second of the game two weeks in a row has been painful and disappointing and difficult to watch. But having to listen to the media poking and prodding at the open wound that is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from Monday-Saturday has completely sucked the joy out of this football season.
In fact, I don’t remember the last time I felt this ready for a season to end before week 3.
That said, a win today would go a long way toward quieting the rumor mill and pulling the Bucs out of the national spotlight. A loss, however, would put the Bucs at 0-3, and likely out of playoff contention–which would serve only to fan the flames of drama.
As early in the season as it is, this is a must-win for the Bucs. And for Bucs fans.