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Tom Brady returns to Foxborough to take on the Patriots. How should you bet this matchup? NFL expert Ben Gretch takes a look.

Sunday Night Football Picks and Predictions: New England Patriots vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New England Patriots vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Start Time, Where To Watch, and Odds

New England Patriots vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Key Notes

Through three weeks, Tampa Bay leads the NFL in pass rate over expected. Their defense has also faced the most pass attempts in the NFL.

New England Patriots vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview and Prediction

The Buccaneers have been a fun team to watch this season, easily leading the NFL in pass rate over expected and also forcing teams to throw against them at a high rate both because their offense puts pressure on, but also because they have a stout run defense. And I don’t expect that to slow down in Week 4.

Tom Brady is returning to Foxboro, which we all know. It’s an easy narrative that he’s going to want to put up some numbers, and he’s in line to break the NFL record for passing yards currently held by Drew Brees in this one. On the other side of the ball, though, the Bucs are going to be without cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean, while top cornerback Carlton Davis was downgraded to questionable late in the week with an abdomen injury. Bucs’ beat reporters are speculating practice squad call-up from this week, Pierre Desir, might get the start, while Richard Sherman could be in line to play if Davis can’t go. Sherman has practiced with the team for just three days after signing earlier this week.

That’s going to invite the Patriots to throw even more than most teams against this defense, but each of the three teams the Buccaneers have faced so far has already come out with that mindset. No team has had more passes thrown against them so far this year than the Bucs. And the Patriots have been willing to throw the ball so far with Mac Jones — they came into Week 4 tied for the eighth-most pass attempts in the NFL, and Jones threw far more passes in their two losses than their one win, which makes sense, but further validates that in a game New England is expected to trail, we should see them willing to open it up.

So far this season, the Bucs are second in the NFL in seconds per snap, and the Patriots rank seventh, per Football-Outsiders. New England was thought to be a run-heavy team by most observers entering the season, but so far this year they have been very willing to play fast and throw the ball plenty, much like how their offense operated when Tom Brady was in his final years with the Patriots, and not at all like how they operated in 2020 with Cam Newton under center.

In a game that projects for this much passing, you expect play volume to rise, because of clock stoppages. You expect more drives and more opportunities for points. There are no guarantees the Patriots will be able to score, but the banged-up Bucs’ secondary certainly won’t hurt their ability to find some big passing plays. I’m as excited as any other observer to watch this fun matchup Sunday night, and rather than having a side, I love the idea of playing the over and rooting for some fireworks.

New England Patriots vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pick

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Ben knows his football. A fantasy football expert who was most recently seen at CBS Sports, he'll be helping bettors find value ahead in the NFL with OddsChecker.

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