Buccaneers vs. Patriots: 3 things WFT fans should watch for originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
For the entire week, the topic of discussion around the NFL is the return of Tom Brady to Foxborough as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the New England Patriots.
Regardless of which team fans roots for, their eyes will be glued to the Sunday Night Football game. The Washington Football Team will see Tampa Bay next month, so fans of Ron Rivera’s squad are keeping a close eye on the Buccaneers in this game.
Here are three things for Washington fans to look for in the Buccaneers-Patriots game:
A game of chess
Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick spent 20 years together in New England, so they both know each other inside and out.
As a result, the Buccaneers quarterback has a good idea of the defensive schemes his former coach will try to impose to stop him. Meanwhile, Belichick knows what passing plays Brady likes to run and what makes Brady uncomfortable.
It’s cliché to say the winner of this match between the two will come in the details, but when both sides know each other, it will likely take the supporting cast executing the schemes.
The Brady-Belichick matchup will be the game within the game on Sunday.
Mac Jones continuing to look like a rookie
In the preseason, the Patriots decided to hand over the keys to the franchise to their 2021 first-round pick, as they cut Cam Newton and ushered in the Jones era in New England.
However, the Patriots are off to a 1-2 start this season, with Jones having two touchdowns and three interceptions while passing for 737 yards. In the rookie’s latest game against the New Orleans Saints, he had a passer rating of 55.2, and his rating has gone down from Week 1 to Week 3.
Now Jones, 23, will need to figure out a Super Bowl-winning defense, so it will be interesting to see whether he continues to look like a rookie or rises to the occasion knowing how much Belichick wants to win the game.
Rushing the quarterback
Jones is a rookie quarterback, so Tampa Bay will do their best to overwhelm him, resulting in a couple of sacks. The Buccaneers could look to take a page out of the Cleveland Browns book when they faced Justin Fields last weekend, as they sacked the rookie nine times.
Perhaps Tampa Bay might not get to him that amount, but the Bucs will definitely be looking to get to Jones often, especially considering they only have three sacks despite the names on their defensive line.
Meanwhile, New England has one of the better pass rushes in the NFL, as it’s tied for sixth with nine team sacks through three games, with Matt Judon leading the way with 3.5. The Patriots will hope this trend on defense continues as they look to make Brady uncomfortable.
How to watch
New England and Tampa Bay are set to kick off at 8:20 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 3, at Gillette Stadium. Coverage starts with Football Night in America on NBC at 7 p.m. ET.