The Patriots face the hapless 0-6 Bucs in London this afternoon. Admittedly, it’s not a very exciting game outside the fact that it’s in Europe, but there are still interesting things to look out for in this upcoming matchup:
1) Patriots Running game vs. Bucs Linebackers
With Fred Taylor and now Sammy Morris out, the play of Laurence Maroney, BenJarvis Green-Ellis (The Law Firm), and Kevin Faulk will be the focus of this week’s game. Laurence finally showed some glimpses of his early career promise against the Titans. Will that continue? The Law Firm is a darling of sports radio call-ins and he will certainly get some touches this week. It will be interesting to see if sports radio got something right for once.
2) Sebastian Vollmer vs. Bucs Pass Rush
Against the Titans last week, everybody looked great including Sea Bass. He stopped an elite Titans pass rusher, Kyle Vanden Bosch, dead in his tracks and pulled very nicely in front of Maroney on his 45 yard touchdown scamper that blew the game wide open. This surprise second round pick is a favorite amongst Patriot junkies and look for him to build on last week’s impressive performance.
3) Tom Brady vs. Himself
Clearly, Tom had a great game against the Titans. He was able to throw the deep ball, and calmly step into his passes. Was this performance a result of him finally shaking off the rust? Returning back to form from major injuries is never a linear progression. Tom will certainly have bad days along with the good, but hopefully there will be fewer and fewer days like the one he had in Denver as the season progresses.
4) Cadillac Williams vs. Patriots Linebackers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have few offensive options. Cadillac Williams is the first player to successfully come back from patellar ruptures in both knees and is have a pretty nice year for himself. Look for Guyton and Mayo too keep Cadillac under 100 total yards on the day.
5) Kellen Winslow and Antonio Bryant vs. Patriots Secondary
Antonio Bryant had a great year last year, but is off to a sluggish start as a result of his off-season knee surgery. Kellen Winslow, on the other hand, is quietly having a decent year. Josh Johnson will look for these two early and often. If the resurgent Patriots secondary can contain them, it will spell for a very long day for the Bucs.