It’s not common for an AFC team and an NFC team to be perpetually stacked up against each other as a season unfolds, but neither Tom Brady nor the New England Patriots are normal entities.
Brady now is a Buccaneer after 20 seasons and six Super Bowl titles in New England. While the TB12 vs. Bill Belichick debate is a tired one, you’re probably lying if you deny being interested in how the two future Hall of Famers fare without one another in the upcoming season. New England and Tampa Bay undoubtedly will be compared throughout the course of the campaign, so we might as well get the ball rolling now.
With the 2020 schedule now set, here’s how we expect both the Pats’ and Bucs’ slates to shake out.
Week 1: Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Miami spoiled New England’s shot at a first-round bye last season with a stunning Week 17 win Foxboro. The Patriots will be hungry for revenge and will come out on top. — WIN
Week 2: @ Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m.
CenturyLink Field is one of the toughest places to play for an opposing team. Seahawks fans will be going berserk from wire to wire for their team’s home opener, and the bright lights will be too much for Jarrett Stidham. — LOSS
Week 3: Las Vegas Raiders, 1 p.m.
The Raiders have some nice, young pieces in place, but they still have the underwhelming Derek Carr under center. The Patriots will bounce back with a home win. — WIN
Week 4: @ Kansas City Chiefs, 4:25
Patrick Mahomes is a play or two away from having a perfect 3-0 career record against the Patriots. With Brady now out of the picture, Kansas City should face little trouble with New England. — LOSS
Week 5: Denver Broncos, 1 p.m.
The Broncos likely will be a popular sleeper pick for playoff teams in 2020. Still, we know how Belichick typically fares against young quarterbacks, especially at Gillette Stadium. — WIN
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m.
Jimmy Garoppolo will enter this one with a big chip on his shoulder, and the reigning NFC champions will outlast the Patriots in a defensive slugfest. — LOSS
Week 8: @ Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
The Bills are poised to usurp the Patriots in the AFC East this season. They’ll earn a statement win at home in the teams’ first of two meetings on the campaign. — LOSS
Week 9: @ New York Jets, 1 p.m.
With a tough stretch ahead, the Patriots earn a much-needed road victory against a division foe. — WIN
Week 10: Baltimore Ravens, 8:20 p.m.
The AFC’s No. 1 overall seed from a season ago somehow grew even stronger over the offseason. We don’t imagine they’ll be doing much losing in 2020. — LOSS
Week 11: @ Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Yes, DeAndre Hopkins is gone, but the Texans still are poised to be one of the better teams in the AFC. Deshaun Watson and Co. stomped on the Patriots in Houston last season, and we expect history to repeat itself. — LOSS
Week 12: Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m.
Kyler Murray, like many quarterbacks before him, won’t be successful in his first career trip to Foxboro. — WIN
Week 13: @ Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.
The Chargers are set pretty much everywhere besides the most-important position: quarterback. We like New England’s chances regardless of it’s Tyrod Taylor or Justin Herbert under center for the Bolts. — WIN
Week 14: @ Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 p.m.
The Rams very well could be cellar dwellers in the NFC West this season. Belichick earns his second consecutive victory over Sean McVay. — WIN
Week 15: @ Dolphins, 1 p.m.
The late-season struggles in South Beach will come back to haunt the Patriots yet again. — LOSS
Week 16: Bills, 8:15 p.m.
With their playoff lives hanging on by a thread, the Patriots rebound from Week 8 and edge out the Bills in primetime. — WIN
Week 17: Jets, 1 p.m.
There will be no disheartening defeat in the regular-season finale for New England this time around. — WIN
Final Record: 9-7
Week 1: @ New Orleans Saints, 4:25 p.m.
Brady receives a harsh welcome to the NFC South at the hands of Drew Brees and Co. — LOSS
Week 2: Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
The Panthers are poised to be making an early pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Bucs shouldn’t face much trouble in their home opener. — WIN
Week 3: @ Broncos, 4:25 p.m.
This one has shootout written all over it, with Tampa Bay emerging with a victory by the skin of its teeth. — WIN
Week 4: Chargers, 1 p.m.
You’d have to go all the way back to 2005 for the last time Brady fell to the Bolts. He’ll continue his success against the Chargers as Tampa rolls on. — WIN
Week 5: @ Chicago Bears, 8:20 p.m
Soldier Field in prime time can be a tough setting for a visitor, but the Bears don’t have the offensive firepower to keep up with the Bucs. — WIN
Week 6: Green Bay Packers, 4:25
In a battle of two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers comes out on top to halt Tampa Bay’s win streak. — LOSS
Week 7: @ Raiders, 8:20 p.m.
This game will make Las Vegas realize it should have made a stronger push in the TB12 sweepstakes. — WIN
Week 8: @ New York Giants, 8:15 p.m.
Daniel Jones had his coming out party at the Bucs’ expense last season. They’ll be eager for revenge in this mid-season clash. — WIN
Week 9: Saints, 8:20 p.m.
New Orleans proves not even the addition of the greatest quarterback of all time will shift the power in the division. — LOSS
Week 10: @ Panthers, 1 p.m.
See Week 2. — WIN
Week 11: Rams, 8:15 p.m.
Just like in Super Bowl LIII, Brady and Rob Gronkowski will lead their team to a win over Los Angeles. — WIN
Week 12: Chiefs, 4:25 p.m.
The reigning Super Bowl MVP evens the head-to-head record between the star signal-callers in Brady vs. Mahomes Part IV. — LOSS
Week 13: BYE
Week 14: Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.
Kirk Cousins is usually good for one bizarrely impressive game each season. Unfortunately for the Bucs, it will come at their expense. — LOSS
Week 15: @ Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Tampa Bay is unable to curb its skid as Matt Ryan and Co. outlast their NFC South rival in a game that could see close to combined 1,000 passing yards. — LOSS
Week 16: @ Detroit Lions, TBD
The Bucs finally get back on track as the playoffs near. — WIN
Week 17: Falcons
Tampa Bay defends home field and ends Brady’s first regular season in Central Florida on a high note. — WIN
Final Record: 10-6