As we all know, Tom Brady decided to freshen things up in 2020. After a legendary career working alongside Bill Belichick in New England, the former-Patriots quarterback left Massachusetts for sunny Florida. He wasn’t retiring, though; he joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to make a run at the Super Bowl.
While leaving New England might not have been the worst idea—the club has struggled this year and seems devoid of offensive weapons—life in Tampa Bay hasn’t been perfect, either. In fact, Tom Brady just learned a harsh reality about life outside of the AFC East.
Tom Brady and his Patriots dominated the AFC East
During his time in Foxborough, Tom Brady went from an unheralded, sixth-round draft pick to a living legend. The quarterback and his New England Patriots teams, however, did have a key advantage: playing in the AFC East.
During his time in Foxborough, Brady accumulated 86 wins and 22 losses against the AFC East. While there’s still some credit to go around—very few NFL games are won simply by showing up—it was still an easier road than most.
Taking a look at the other divisional quarterbacks that Brady and his Patriots had to face helps underline that point. The Miami Dolphins, for example, trotted out guys like Joey Harrington and a hobbled Daunte Culpepper; the Jets started Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez, and Chad Pennington, among others.
Again, those opponents shouldn’t devalue Tom Brady and the Patriots’ success; you can only play who’s on your schedule, and, based on their playoff success, they had no problem beating better quality opponents. At the same time, though, life is pretty easy when you have six cupcake divisional games on the calendar every season.
Tom Brady was just swept for the first time in 20 years
On Sunday night, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers squared off with the New Orleans Saints. While most fans probably expected a shootout, things were a bit more one-sided.
Drew Brees, as he usually does, lit up the scoreboard and threw for four touchdowns. Brady, on the other hand, fell flat. The Buccaneers only put up three points of offense, and the quarterback turned the ball over three times.
That loss was more than just painful, however; it was also historic. As Rich Eisen noted on Twitter, it was the first time in Tom Brady’s entire career that he had been swept in a regular-season series. After 20 years in the AFC East, he can’t cruise to the divisional title anymore.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will probably still make the playoffs, but not as division champs
By adding the likes of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, and Leonard Fornette to their roster, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made it clear that they were going all-in and trying to win a Super Bowl. While that’s still possible, it doesn’t look like they’ll win their own division.
After Sunday night’s defeat, the Buccaneers are 1-2 in the NFC South; both of those losses came to the Saints, which is crippling from a tie-breaking perspective. It doesn’t help matters that New Orleans is currently the best team in the entire NFC, either.
Based on 538’s numbers, the Buccaneers still have an 81% chance of making the playoffs; there’s only a 20% chance of winning the division. That will probably mean playing in the first round of the postseason, going on the road, and having an overall tougher road to the Super Bowl title.
Does Tom Brady have what it takes to get the Buccaneers to the promised land? At this point, you’re betting against him at your own risk. With that being said, though, the legendary quarterback isn’t in
Kansas the AFC East anymore. Things are a bit tougher now.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Talk