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Free Pick: Tampa Bay (2-1) at New England (1-2) 10/3/21
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Free Pick: Tampa Bay (2-1) at New England (1-2) 10/3/21

This one is getting a lot of buzz because of the return of Tom Brady to face-off against his old team and his old coach. But, the game itself features a struggling Patriot team that is starting a rookie quarterback who is going through growing pains. Meanwhile, isn’t playing championship level football and appear to have huge defensive problems. They haven’t been able to match their opponent’s intensity and they are going to get that because they are the Super Bowl champions. Here are the matchups.

Quarterback: This won’t take long. Is there any reason to compare the two quarterbacks? Brady numerous Super Bowl wins; Mac Jones 3 games in the NFL. Advantage: Tampa Bay

Running Backs: Tampa Bay’s running game has been a joke and through 3 games their leading rusher has 92 yards. That is 31 yards per game. New England is only slightly better and led by Damien Harris with 176 yards. Advantage: New England

Receivers: The Bucs have four receivers who have gained over 138 yards. Chris Godwin has led the way with 19 receptions for 241 yards. Mike Evans has 16 catches for 205 yards and Rob Gronkowski also has 16 catches with four of those resulting in touchdowns. The Patriots will counter with Jakobi Meyers who also has 19 catches for 176 yards. The trio of Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, and Hunter Henry have combined for 29 and 332 yards. Advantage: Tampa Bay

Defense: If you go by the defensive stats the Patriots clearly have the edge over Tampa Bay. And they very well might have a better defense, but keep in mind the Bucs as they are being torched for 338 yards per game. Upfront, they have stopped the run but their pass rush has only attained 3 sacks They have to bring some heat on Jones. New England has played excellent defense the first three weeks but they haven’t played an offense like Tampa will throw at them. They have 9 sacks from their front and have defended the pass well. They will be formidable against the Bucs. Advantage: New England

This game will be interesting just because of the characters involved. The Patriots could be 3-0 and they have been plagued by turnovers which have absolutely killed them. Their defense is playing well and until last week, Jones had played been outstanding. Tampa Bay has been great on offense and awful on defense and they also have got to start running the ball better. This won’t be an easy game for them. The Bucs are a 7-point favorite.

AARON’S PICK: Tampa Bay -7

PAPA DUDE’S PICK: New England +7

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