The Patriots injuries at the skill positions will result in another frustrating day for Patriot Nation. However, the execution will be better than last weeks game against the New York Jets. There will be errant passes due to receivers reading coverages incorrectly, and there will be some dropped balls. However, the preseason work the Patriots had practicing with Tampa Bay I believe will work greatly in their favor. The familiarity with most of the Buccaneers defenders and the confidence they can bring to the game having had those practice sessions will enable the rookie receivers to slow things down a bit in their minds.
Revis will be a factor, but I’m unsure how he’ll be used. If they do use him to lock down Julian Edelman, I believe the Patriots rookie receivers will be able to execute and compensate for the lack of production that would result in for Edelman. If he doesn’t lock down Edelman, Julian should have a big day.
As always in the NFL, it will come down to turnovers. If the Patriots protect the ball, they will be able to win this game. If they turn it over, the struggles they have, the desperation of an 0-2 opponent, and the talent the Bucs have will be too much to overcome.
Prediction: New England Patriots 26 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20
I can’t recall a season in which an undefeated Patriots team faced as many questions as the 2013 Patriots do. Going into their week three matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tom Brady and the Patriots offense are looking not just to improve, but to send a message to all those who question their ability to produce at the levels we’ve become accustomed to. But whether they can do so against a Tampa Bay defense that has been effective early in the season is seriously debatable. In week two, the Tampa defense frustrated one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Drew Brees and have held opponents to only 17 points per game thus far in 2013. With Danny Amendola set to miss his second consecutive game and Rob Gronkowski not quite ready to return, the Patriots will again be relying on young receivers to carry the load.
With an extra few days of preparation time, Tom Brady will be sharper than he was against the Jets and the rookie receivers will be more consistent. The offense could get a boost with the return of rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld as well. The Patriots will try early to establish a consistent running game, but with the extra practice time, look for them to more effectively execute out and corner routes and to be more sharp in the red zone.