So, here comes the obvious. When you’re picking an upset special you have to find a game that seems easy at first and then pick it apart to see why it may not be so obvious. That’s why I’m picking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to beat the New England Patriots.
At first glance it may seem ludicrous. But that’s because you’re basing your projections on past performance and the bottom line here is that the Patriots are not the same team they were a season ago. Not even close. So let’s delve into this whole thing and see why I think the Buccaneers are going to knock off New England.
Buccaneers Passing Defense – To begin with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are solid in an area that will control a weakness of the Patriots. Much has already been written about the Patriots passing attack, a shadow of it’s former self employing players of greatly lesser talent than has been used in the past. And the reliable players are hurt. Tom Brady went into fits last week. Wait till this week. The Bucs passing defense can be exploited to some extent, Drew Brees did it last week when it counted. But Brady does not have Marques Colston and he certainly doesn’t have anything approaching Jimmy Graham, who was a killer in gold pants from the Tight End position. New England basically has no Tight Ends.
Buccaneers Running Game – Tampa Bay has to do something about Josh Freeman or else go with a rookie quarterback in Mike Glennon. While New England has done fairly well in the pass defense department thus far, remember they haven’t played against anyone with experience. If Freeman can get a running game going via Doug Martin, he could help himself tremendously. It’s my belief the Bucs will deal out heavy doses of Martin in order to get him on track like he was last season and to avoid going with a rookie under center.
The Trend Is Not Your Friend – The Patriots have been winning but barely. They got away with a close win in Buffalo, then barely escaped with a win over the Jets. Keep getting in close games like that and you’re going to lose some. They’ve won two already by the skin of their teeth. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost two games, barely. A stupid penalty in New York cost them a win and a missed field goal last week cost them a victory over the Saints. Keep getting in close games like that and you’re going to win one eventually. I think the Patriots are toast in a shocking loss to Tampa Bay.Eric Drouant