FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Week 4's game between the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is arguably the most anticipated regular-season matchup in NFL history.
By now, Patriots fans, and football fans in general, know all the storylines. Tom Brady is making his return to Gillette Stadium after being the face of the New England franchise for nearly two decades.
With all eyes focused on Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick, there is still a football game to be played. The Patriots will look to pull off an upset win and get back to an even 2-2 record. The Bucs also lost last week and are looking to get back on track as the team looks to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Locked On: Patriots podcast host Mike D'Abate breaks down this must-watch matchup and offers his keys for a New England victory, what was said during the team's weekly press conferences, and reflects on his favorite memories of TB12.
You can catch this historic matchup on "Sunday Night Football" on NEWS CENTER Maine. We will have live coverage from Gillette starting Sunday morning,
Weeks 13 & 16 against Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills are the betting favorite to win the AFC East. The team led by Josh Allen made it to the AFC Championship game last season and is expected to make it to that point again, if not advance to the Super Bowl. For that reason, beating Buffalo at least once would give New England a huge lift in its goal to reclaim the division throne or make the playoffs as a wildcard. Both teams will have plenty of time to prepare for their first meeting on Monday, Dec. 6. New England enters its bye week after the game and will see the Bills in Foxborough again the day after Christmas.
Weeks 6 & 12 hosting Dallas and Tennessee
The game against Brady will bring all the attention, but another good offensive team will come to town a few weeks later when the Cowboys play the Patriots on Oct. 17. If Thursday’s game showed anything to the NFL, it’s that Dallas's offense will be one of the best units in the league and could make this matchup for New England one to circle in the first half of the season.
The Titans come to Gillette on Nov. 28 and will bring yet another impressive collection of offensive weapons. Running back Derrick Henry and wide receivers Julio Jones and A.J. Brown will give steady quarterback Ryan Tannehill enough weapons to return to the playoffs and give the Patriots defense all they can handle in week 12.
Week 10 vs. Cleveland: Hype around the Browns has been a consistent trend this preseason. Quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. give defensive coordinators a lot to game plan for if they're on their game. The storyline of this Browns team might be the defensive play, led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Myles Garret. It will be another test for the Patriots in the middle of the season.
Week 18 @ Miami.
The Patriots' Achilles heel in recent memory has been playing on the road against the Dolphins. With a divisional race that is expected to be closer than years past between Miami, New England, and Buffalo, this season finale could give the Patriots a playoff spot with a win, or even clinch the division. Potentially.