Sunday, September 22, 2013

Week 3 AFC East game picks: Bucs at Patriots

Publisher Nick St. Denis, associate editor Dan Begnoche and senior contributor Sean Donovan pick the New England Patriots' cross-conference matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Nick's take: 
All week, Bill Belichick tried to put lipstick on the pig that is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the fact is New England should roll here. The Patriots' defense has a well-rested and dangerous front seven that will rattle an awful Josh Freeman, and a long layoff has given Tom Brady ample time to sync up with his young receiver corps.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Buccaneers 14

Dan's take:
New England's offensive line will have another tough test with a Bucs front that's tallied nine sacks already, and it'll need a much stronger effort by its young receivers to avoid another nail biter. The Patriots' secondary has another strong showing against a struggling Josh Freeman, who's completed just 45 percent of his passes thus far. 
Prediction: Patriots 27, Buccaneers 13

Sean's take:
The Patriots' recent sloppy style of winning will not work against a very talented, though struggling, Buccaneers team. Tampa Bay possesses a dangerous but inconsistent passing attack that can punish the New England secondary for mistakes, but a combination of a good pass rush and improved coverage will rein in Vincent Jackson & Co. The 10-day layoff since their last game helps the Patriots' young roster get a handle on the mental errors.
Prediction: Patriots 24, Buccaneers 20