The minute Tom Brady left the New England Patriots to head to Tampa Bay, a thought jumped into the minds of football fans everywhere. Could we one see Brady go up against his former team in the Super Bowl? For obvious reasons, this idea excited even the most cynical NFL fans. A Brady-Belichick Super Bowl would be legendarily dramatic.
Unfortunately, it was looking like we may never get the chance. Although Brady and the Bucs held up their end of the bargain, going on to win the Super Bowl in Tampa last season, the Patriots did not. It was a rough year in Foxborough, as the Cam Newton-led Patriots finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs entirely.
After the year the Patriots had, I’m sure many assumed it would be a long time before we saw New England anywhere near the top of the league again. However, something weird occurred. The Patriots got good again. Rather quickly too. After a 2-4 start that had Patriots fans everywhere groaning, New England has rattled off seven consecutive wins. The impressive win streak has the Patriots firmly in first place in the AFC standings.
Tampa Bay meanwhile remains one of the best teams in the NFL. They are currently standing at 10-3, tied for the best record in the NFC. What looked impossible just a few months ago is beginning to look like a real possibility.
The Patriots and Bucs are two of the top teams in the NFL right now. The door is officially open for a Brady vs Belichick Super Bowl. It’s no longer just a pipe dream, this really can happen.
I think many NFL fans would want this to happen as well. Even though I’m sure there are many who want nothing to do with seeing New England or Tom Brady in yet another Super Bowl. It’s understandable. Tom Brady and/or the Patriots have appeared in 10 Super Bowls since the year 2000, including five of the last seven!
However, just look back at when the Patriots and Buccaneers went head to head in Week 4. There is definitely a market for this game. That matchup was the fourth highest viewed regular season football game in NFL history, drawing in roughly 28.5 million eyes for Brady’s return to Foxborough. If that’s the kind of viewership that matchup gets in Week 4, imagine what it will be on the sporting world’s largest stage?
The fans will want to see it, and I believe the players can make it happen. New England is riding high right now, scarily resembling the 2001 Patriots squad. You know, the one that took down Kurt Warner and the “Greatest Show on Turf”? They are elite defensively, make minimal mistakes, they excel on special teams, can run the ball down your throat, and have a young quarterback who manages the game like a seasoned vet.
The Buccanneers are arguably the most talented team in the NFL. That’s to be expected when you return 22 out of 22 starters from a dominant Super Bowl team. Tom Brady at age 44 could very well win the MVP award this year. He is currently leading the league with 4,134 passing yards and 36 passing touchdowns. Tampa Bay has one of the best run defenses in the NFL right now. They also still have solid offensive weapons all over the field.
Although the NFC path to the Super Bowl is full of elite teams, Tampa Bay has the talent and experience to navigate it. I believe the Green Bay Packers will be their toughest test. That being said, Tampa did beat them last year in the NFC Championship Game and I believe they can do it again.
As for New England, the AFC is sort of crumbling around them, with Kansas City emerging as really the only true contender that the Patriots should fear. Tennessee could be interesting if they get healthy, and Indianapolis is also an interesting dark horse. In reality though, I think New England and Kansas City will be the giants battling out for AFC supremacy.
This is the matchup everyone envisioned when Brady left Belichick to join up with Bruce Arians in Tampa. Less than two years later, we could really see this dream matchup come to fruition. Vegas must agree to a degree too. The Bucs have the best odds to win the Super Bowl currently at +525. Meanwhile the Patriots currently sit at fourth with +800 odds. Having these two ranked inside the top four should be a key indicator that this thing is getting real.
Photo: (Maddie Meyer – Getty Images)
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