New England Patriots vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 9/22/13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) at New England Patriots (2-0)
NFL Football: Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 1:00 pm (Gillette Stadium)
The Line: New England Patriots -7 -- Over/Under: 46.5 See the Latest Odds
The Buccaneers look for their first win of the season as they take to the road to face the Patriots who despite sitting at 2-0 have had some major struggles themselves.
Tampa Bay was predicted to be a dark horse team in the NFC this season after their offseason acquisitions and expectations from key players were sky high, but through two weeks of the season, the Bucs have yet to record a victory and have lost on the final play of the game both times. Tampa opened up the season with a road loss against the Jets then followed that up with a home loss to their division rivals from New Orleans and now has to go on the road to play one of the league’s powerhouses from New England. Tampa has already endured a season’s worth of off field distractions, as both Josh Freeman and newcomer Darelle Revis have publicly criticized head coach Greg Schiano, which is only going to make matters worse on the field if they can’t right the ship and scrape a couple victories together. Doug Martin has also been very quiet as fantasy owners have been kicking themselves and Bucs fans have been joining them as the sophomore back hasn’t been able to generate the same early season success he had a year ago. Things looked very bright at the beginning of the year for Tampa Bay, but at the moment things are gloomy and they could be staring at 0-3.
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Despite sitting with an unblemished mark, the New England Patriots are a couple plays away from being 0-2 and the on-field struggles of Tom Brady’s new offense being quite visible, the Patriots don’t look anything like the team many had as Super Bowl contenders in August. The loss of Wes Welker has been transparent and even though Danny Amendola looked great against Buffalo, he will be absent for the next month recovering from a hip injury, leaving Brady with a collection of newcomers who have very little experience with one of the game’s best quarterbacks. The loss of Shane Vereen and the ineffectiveness of Stevan Ridley have the Pats scrambling, but the silver lining for Patriots fans is that Rob Gronkowski appears to be ready to rejoin the team this week. If that is the case, expect Brady and Gronk to hook up near double digits as their chemistry is clearly one of the best in the league and with the frustrations mounting for Brady, it’ll be nice to get a familiar face back on the field. Aqib Talib squares off against his former team, while Revis is back in Foxboro for the first time since leaving the Jets, which will be another couple storylines to watch out for in this game. Despite their struggles, I like the Pats to use this as a breakout game as the Bucs are in turmoil and with Gronk back I see the Pats offense starting to open up.