The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will kick off the NFL’s 2021 season when they take on the Dallas Cowboys at home on Thursday, September 9. But the defending Super Bowl champions have another clash on their fixture list that will get fans and pundits’ juices flowing.
The NFL’s schedule release took place on Wednesday night, as all 32 NFL teams learned their entire season schedules for 2021.
And the Buccaneers’ Week 4 game will see the Florida team’s star man go head to head against the team that made him a legend.
That’s because the Bucs’ Week 4 assignment sees the Super Bowl champs travel east to Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Patriots.
It means Tampa Bay’s talismanic quarterback and Super Bowl MVP will head back to his former team to take on a host of his former team-mates, and former head coach Bill Belichick.
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“I saw the schedule come out last night and I started salivating when I saw that we play the Patriots in the fourth game of the season, and that we’re coming up here to make our record 4-0 after the fourth game,” Brady told the “Zolak and Bertrand” radio show.
“We expect to beat the Patriots rather handily, frankly.”
His son was rather more reserved in his reaction to the schedule, as he tweeted dryly, “It’s like when your high school friends meet your college friends,” together with a grimacing emoji.
Relations between Brady and the Patriots during that Week 4 game will make for fascinating viewing as the veteran quarterback heads back to his old stomping ground for a reunion with his old team and coach.
Brady won six Super Bowls with the Patriots after they drafted him 199th in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
As well as leading the team to six Super Bowls, he also picked up four Super Bowl MVP awards before departing New England for Tampa before the start of the 2020 NFL season.
Many questioned whether he would be able to repeat his success after he moved to Tampa, but he led the team into the playoffs, where they excelled to reach Super Bowl LV, where they thrashed the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in a one-sided finale to the 2020 season.
Following Brady’s record-extending seventh Super Bowl win and fifth Super Bowl MVP award, the Patriots congratulated Brady on his Super Bowl success via their social media channels.
The team’s official Twitter account posted a congratulatory message to their former hero, stating, “Congratulations to the greatest of all time.”
But it remains to be seen whether Brady, and his former Patriots team-mate, tight end Rob Gronkowski, will receive a warm reception upon their return.
The game could also see the Patriots’ latest quarterback acquisition, first-round draft pick and former Alabama Crimson Tide star Mac Jones, go head to head with the NFL legend in a quarterback battle that will represent an acid test of his credentials.
The Patriots are expected to start the season with former Carolina Panthers’ Super Bowl-winning quarterback Cam Newton.
But Jones has been tipped by some to earn the starting job swiftly in New England, as Belichick and offensive co-ordinator Josh McDaniels look to rediscover the winning formula after a nightmare campaign last season.