FIRST QUARTER: What to like about last week’s win over the Jets

Todd: How about that they won?  How about that as inept as the Pats offense has looked these first two weeks they've managed to win a pair of games and are already 2-0 in the division?  How about the defense causing the Jets to commit four turnovers (now 29 straight games the Pats’ D has gotten a takeaway)?  How about Aqib Talib being responsible for forcing three of those Jet turnovers?  How about Julian Edelman’s career-high thirteen receptions?  How about rookie Aaron Dobson’s first NFL catch resulting in a 39-yard touchdown?  How about rookie Ryan Allen getting a great deal of in-game punting experience?  Ok, I’m pretty sure Bill Belichick doesn’t care much about that last one.

Mike: Like Todd said, the fact that they won is the easiest thing to like. The fact that Tom Brady kept his touchdown passing streak alive (he's catching up quickly to Drew Brees) and the forced turnovers were good as well. And, obviously, any time a New York (or in this case, New Jersey) team loses, that's a good thing as well.

SECOND QUARTER: What not to like about that win over the Jets

Todd: Is there enough space here?  How about the Pats offense only amassing 151 total yards and zero touchdowns after their 81-yard opening TD drive in the first quarter?  How about Allen punting more times (11) than the Pats had first downs (9)?  How about the Pats converting only 22% of their third down opportunities?  How about receivers not named Julian Edelman finishing with only a combined six catches?  How about Tom Brady completing less than 50 percent of his passes at Gillette for the first time in 58 games?  How about Stevan Ridley failing for a second straight week to pick up the offensive slack, rushing for just 40 yards on 16 carries?  With apologies to Milli Vanilli, I can’t blame this putrid performance on the rain.  I also can’t imagine the offense will look any worse going forward, even if Rob Gronkowski only manages to make a cameo appearance this week against the Buccaneers.

Mike: That game was the epitome of winning ugly. They just escaped with the win, and if they were playing a legitimate team instead of the joke that is the J-E-T-S, they would have been looking at a 1-1 record going into Week 3. I can't imagine sitting out in the pouring rain watching that was hard enough watching it on TV, to be 100% honest, it just about put me to sleep in the second half.

THIRD QUARTER: Patriots-Buccaneers preview

Todd: The Pats have several things working in their favor this week.  They’re at home, didn’t play last weekend and get an opponent that make the Jets look good (having lost to them in Week 1).  As dysfunctional as Rex Ryan’s Jets appear to be they’ve got nothing on Greg Schiano’s 0-2 Buccaneers, with reports surfacing this week that both Josh Freeman and Darrelle Revis are tuning out their coach and his ultra-disciplinary style.  And while the former Jet Revis has always been a Pats nemesis, that might not be as much the case this week coming off a significant knee injury and playing more zone coverage and less man-to-man in the Bucs’ defensive scheme.

Hopefully the extended layoff gave Brady and his receivers enough extra reps so that they’ll show some improvement Sunday.  I still think the offense will struggle in general, leaving it again up to the defense to put forth another strong effort.  For what it’s worth, the Pats are 18-4 all-time at Gillette Stadium against the NFC and Bill Belichick’s first regular season game as Pats coach was a 21-16 home loss to Tampa Bay on September 3, 2000.  So in what will hopefully be a good sign, let's go for a final score this week of Pats 21, Bucs 16.

Mike: I am so glad that the Pats have another bad team on their schedule this week as they work to get their legs under them this season. As Todd said, the Bucs made the Jets look good, and that's hard to do. Tampa Bay handed the Jets a Week 1 win with a stupid unnecessary roughness penalty late in the 4th quarter to set the Jets up with a winning field goal. The Patriots, as a much better coached team than the Jets, will eat a team like Tampa Bay alive if they make the same kinds of dumb mistakes in Foxborough this week.

Todd also touched on the extended layoff that New England has had this week to get ready for the Buccaneers, which is almost always a situation that leads to a New England win. I think that will be the case again this week, New England wins 24-13.

FOURTH QUARTER: Other games we like this week

Todd (3-0 last week): Can you believe there was a noteworthy NFL trade this week, where deals of this caliber tend to happen about as often as Belichick cracks a smile?  The Browns have apparently decided they’re already tired of running back Trent Richardson, so they shipped the third overall pick from last year’s draft to Indy for the Colts’ first round pick next year.  I don’t think this trade helps either of these clubs this week, as I like the Vikings to get off the schneid with a win in their home opener against the Browns and the 49ers to bounce back from their drubbing last Sunday in Seattle to defeat the Colts.  Speaking of those Seahawks, I like them to kick an early field goal against the Jaguars this week, which will be more than enough to give Pete Carroll’s boys an easy win.

By the way, are the Chiefs already 3-0 after winning just two games all of last year?  Great googly moogly!

Mike (1-2 last week): Not for nothing, but I had the Chiefs beating the Eagles this week, I'm just saying!

Anyway, since I can't count that as one of my games, I'll take the Packers over the Bengals, the Bears over the Steelers and New Orleans over Arizona.

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