By Max Luckan
The 2013 regular season hasn’t been a very good one so far for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After very close losses to the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, the Bucs find themselves with a record of 0-2 and the schedule won’t be getting any easier anytime soon. This Sunday, the Bucs will travel to Foxboro, Massachusetts to take on the New England Patriots, who as always, are off to a good start. With all the drama currently surrounding this Bucs team, they will look to try to solve their problems by winning a big game against the Patriots, which won’t be an easy task.
Patriots Season Record
New England currently holds a record of 2-0, which is pretty typical for them this early in the season. However, those two wins against divisional opponents were very narrow wins, which is not quite as typical. The Patriots were able to hold off the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 and the New York Jets in Week 2, which already gives the Patriots a head start in their division. They’ll look to increase that division lead against a Bucs team that is currently in disarray.
Patriots on Offense
Everyone knows that the Patriots have a prolific offense because of quarterback Tom Brady. But currently, the Patriots are ranked 22nd in the NFL in total offense. That ranking can be attributed to Brady’s lack of weapons this season. Brady will be without wide receiver Danny Amendola for a while, which means he will have to rely on wide receivers Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Aaron Dobson, who are all relatively inexperienced.
The Patriots will continue to throw the ball because Brady will still be able to find his targets and he has the ability to work with what he’s given. However, this season the Patriots are also committed to the run game with running back Stevan Ridley, who is currently starting in place of the injured Shane Vereen.
Patriots on Defense
On defense, the Patriots are currently ranked 25th in the league in yards per game given up. The team’s strong suit on defense is probably the line anchored by defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, so the Patriots are always looking to stop the run.
However, with cornerback Aqib Talib playing at a very high level, New England’s secondary has also become an asset on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, the Patriots are currently only allowing an average of 169.5 yards per game through the air, which is outstanding.
New England isn’t known for its strong defense, but rather for its high-powered offense, but with the offense sputtering, the defense has kept the Patriots in games early this season.
Patriots Players to Watch
Tom Brady: Brady, a future Hall of Fame quarterback, has picked apart the Bucs defense in recent matchups, but how will he do against a revamped Bucs secondary?
Julian Edelman: With Amendola out, Edelman has become Brady’s favorite target by default and somewhat of an X-factor. The Bucs had trouble stopping Darren Sproles in Week 2, and Edelman won’t be easy to slow down either.
Aqib Talib: The former Bucs cornerback knows how Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman plays. Plus, Talib has been playing relatively well lately and he could cause problems for Freeman in the passing game.
The Bucs and Patriots met in the preseason and it’s no secret that Bucs head coach Greg Schiano and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick are good friends. But in regular season matchups, the Patriots are 5-2 all-time against the Bucs, who are currently reeling from two close losses and there’s no end in sight for Tampa’s hardships.
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. Max is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.