Brady and Buccaneers are a Super match

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AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

Dominic DiTommaso

Let me make this as clear as a summer-Tampa sky: the amount of disrespect Tom Brady gets does not offend me.

As possibly the only Tom Brady supporter this side of Boston, I have continually spoken about the greatest athlete in sports history. So the amount of unobjective contempt for Brady has no effect on me. They soon will see what I do.

While leading the Patriots to nine Super Bowls in the past 20 years, Brady also leads the NFL in hate generated. The humble, genuine and impossibly nice guy is hated by most in this country — out of jealousy.

So when Brady announced he was headed south, the Doubting Toms spoke out: They will miss the playoffs! They will finish third in the division! This season has 6-10 written all over it!

Go ahead and hate — while you can.

When the NFL released schedules in early May, it immediately hit me that the Buccaneers’ schedule has 13-3 written all over it. When I got over the shock that Tampa has to go to New Orleans opening week without any preseason games, I realized that Brady’s team will start 0-1 and finish 13-2.

Having the 16th-ranked strength of schedule, Tampa will easily win games against the likes of Denver and New York and Detroit. They will beat Green Bay in Tampa, and will certainly handle the Chiefs at home (Brady is 2-1, against Patrick Mahomes, after all). After losing always-tricky road division games to Carolina and Atlanta, Brady’s Bucs will finish with 13 wins and a division title.

The change of a team that last year went 7-9, and historically has the worst overall record of any professional sports team in North America, comes solely from the arrival of a quarterback, THE quarterback.

Brady is arriving in Tampa after taking the Patriots, a few months prior, who easily could have been 6-10, to a 12-4 record that easily could have been 14-2.

Brady achieved all of that surrounded by the worst group of weapons in pro football, and by far the worst of his career. They were ranked dead last in separation and his “best” receiver, Julian Edelman, led the league in drops. His best tight end was 39-year-old Benjamin Watson, who had a total of 173 yards on the season.

This just in: things have changed.

Brady is now on a team with two Pro Bowl receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who combined for 153 catches and 2,490 yards last year. Brady’s tight ends include OJ Howard and Cameron Brate, who combined for just under 800 yards last season, plus Rob Gronkowski, the greatest tight end of all time, who just two seasons ago averaged 14.5 yards per-catch.

Yes, Brady did have a pretty good defense in New England last season, but remember, it did allow 37 points to Baltimore, 28 to Houston and 27 to Miami, whose offense ranked, appropriately, 27th in the NFL.

Again, things have changed.

In the last six games of the 2019 season, Tampa’s defense ranked 10th in yards allowed while the team went 4-2. The team won in spite of it’s turnover-machine quarterback, Jameis Winston.

Winston led all quarterbacks in interceptions with 30 last season. Brady’s career-high is 14.

Last season, Brady had 24 touchdowns to only eight interceptions in a “bad” year. That’s pretty impressive despite the firepower, or lack thereof, surrounding him in New England. Yes, he did rank 17th in QBR, but I wouldn’t have blamed him if he was in the bottom ten with the “talent” he had around him.

Last season, with no deep threat to see, Brady had a passer rating of 98 on “deep balls” (passes 16 yards or over), while completing 40 such passes. In 2017, his MVP season, his passer rating on such passes was 96, so he was worse on deep passes in his MVP season than he was last season.

Tampa Bay, now TOMpa Bay, is starting to look like the paradise it is, especially with a head coach in Bruce Arians who has worked with Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger before, an offensive consultant in Tom Moore who coached Manning in Indy and a top-five defensive coordinator in Todd Bowles.

That’s right, I’m picking Tampa Bay to win the Super Bowl, over Baltimore, this upcoming February. The added pressure of being the first team to play a home Super Bowl is something Brady will gladly accept. Going 13-3 and winning the division, something many believe they can’t do, will seem like a consolation prize when Brady is holding the Lombardi Trophy again.

Not just that, but my pick for MVP this upcoming season is Brady. He will also be deserving of the Comeback Player of the Year, but we know the Brady-hating National Football League will not allow that.

So please, count out the Buccaneers.

Brady will thank you later.