Week 15 of the NFL season was fantastic. Not because there was a lot of good football on television, but rather because of how badly Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played. Brady was excluded for the third time in his career, a 9-0 defeat at the hands of the New Orleans Saints.
It’s always nice to be a clown on the GOAT. We know he’s great and we know he’s played more good than bad games this season, but it’s still nice to be able to make fun of Brady every now and then. How come? Because it’s highly unlikely we’ll be able to clown him after this weekend as the Bucs (10-4) face the Carolina Panthers 5-9 away.
Since 2005, Tom Brady has started 14 games in which his team has scored 15 points or less. Brady has a record of 12-1 (two of the games that took place in the last week of the regular season: 2014 and 2015) in the following weeks, averaging 34.3 points per game. Even in the two games that couldn’t be counted, when Brady faced those teams the following season, he went 2-0, averaging 37.5 points per game and combined for 742 yards and six touchdowns. He doesn’t like being embarrassed twice in a row.
Yes, it will probably be without his two Pro Bowl Gauge Receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but Brady has managed to do great things in the past with less talent surrounding him than he currently has on the Bucs. Remember 2015, when the main wide receiver of the Patriots played in just nine games and the second wide receiver only scored 648 receiving yards? All Brady did that year was throwing for over 4,700 yards, 36 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Aside from Gronk, Brady had virtually no one to throw at for nearly half of the games and still managed to put together MVP numbers (he actually ended up tied for second place in MVP rating that year).
Plus, Brady probably won’t be entirely without help. Receiver No. 3 of the Bucs, Antonio Brown, returned to practice yesterday and will likely play for the first time since week 6, given how desperately the team needs outside threats with Evans and Godwin out. Brown has made at least seven passes in each of his last three games played. He even drew more than ten targets per game during that time, so we know Brady trusts him to lead the Tampa Bay attack when needed.
As fun as it would be to mock Brady for the second straight week, he still has his outstanding offensive line protecting him. He still has Bruce Ariani who he calls his plays. He will probably pick up Antonio Brown and is still playing with the Panthers. With the Bucs behind the Packers for the NFC seed, Brady will have to go all out if he is to have a chance that week. We should never expect Brady to fall twice in a row.