Until last year, nobody could have imagined that Tom Brady would be wearing a road jersey during a game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Perhaps even more surprising is that Brady comes in as a defending Super Bowl champion and MVP candidate at age 44, long past the age when most of his peers retired.
His old New England Patriots, meanwhile, haven’t fully recovered from his shocking departure 18 months ago. They’ve gone just 8-11 in the interim, largely due to inconsistent quarterback play. Rookie Mac Jones is already New England’s fourth signal-caller with at least three passing attempts since Brady left.
How will Brady fare against his old team? Let’s dive in on the Week 4 edition of our SNF football prediction series. All Week 4 SNF odds and lines are current as of Friday, October 1.
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Sunday Night Football Prediction Week 4
It’s hard to imagine a more lopsided quarterback matchup than the one we’ll get on Sunday night. While Tampa Bay will trot out the greatest signal-caller of all time, New England is still breaking in a rookie who was two years old when his opponent debuted. This will be just Jones’s fourth NFL start and third in Foxborough, a place where Brady has started considerably more.
As a result, the Patriots are clear home underdogs here, which hasn’t happened often during the past two decades. New England has been one of the worst offensive teams in the NFL since Brady left, ranking in the bottom seven in scoring since the beginning of last season and averaging just 18 points per game this year. Tampa Bay, on the other hand, leads the NFL in points scored this year and has looked pretty close to unstoppable on offense with so many weapons at Brady’s disposal.
The Patriots’ offense will look to get going against a Buccaneers defense that has surprisingly allowed the sixth-most points in the NFL this year. Tampa Bay was expected to have one of the league’s better units this season, so don’t be surprised if they right the ship against a rookie quarterback coming off a three-interception game.
New England’s defense is stellar as always, but they’ve also benefited from matchups against Tua Tagovailoa, Zach Wilson, and Jameis Winston. They know his tendencies better than anyone, however, which should make preparing for him a bit easier.
In the end, the Buccaneers’ offensive firepower will be too much to overcome. They’re averaging nearly twice as many points per game as the Patriots (34.3 vs. 18.0), and their defense is due for a rebound. Brady isn’t scared of Bill Belichick and will feel right at home at Gillette, where the crowd is unlikely to be hostile to their former hero.
The Pats were just embarrassed on their home turf by the New Orleans Saints. Look for the Bucs to do the same.
SNF Week 4 Pick: Buccaneers 31, Patriots 13
Sunday Night Football Best Bets Week 4
SNF Best Bet: Buccaneers -7 (-110) at BetMGM
The public expects Brady and co. to win Sunday’s game pretty handily, and I have to agree. As much as I want to fade the public or find a reason why the Patriots can win, I just don’t see it.
Jones isn’t bad, but Brady’s playing some of the best football of his career, which is saying something. Tampa Bay is arguably the best all-around team in the NFL this year, while the Patriots look like a .500 squad at best.
The Bucs shouldn’t have too much trouble moving the chains against the Patriots, as they just tallied 446 total yards of offense against the Los Angeles Rams. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s talented defense could cause problems for a New England offense that lacks playmakers and is over-reliant on the run.
I’d take the Buccaneers up to -9.5 in this one, so keep an eye on our NFL gameday odds to see if the line shifts throughout the week. A double-digit win is in the cards for Brady’s return.
- Check out our Buccaneers vs Patriots prop predictions and picks.
SNF Best Bet: Under 49 Points (-110) at BetMGM
Both defenses are loaded with talent and should do enough to keep this game relatively low-scoring. The Buccaneers will put up points regardless of who they’re playing, but the Patriots’ offense is likely to stall. New England has scored just four touchdowns this year, partly because Jones has thrown more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (two) thus far.
If Tampa Bay’s defense plays up to its potential, they’ll limit New England enough to keep the final score relatively low. Even if the Bucs score 30+ points, the Under is still in play if the Pats’ offensive woes continue, making this our NFL bet of the day.
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