Brady will face his old head coach of 20 years, Bill Belichick, in the game. The game could help answer questions about coaches versus quarterbacks that go back decades. However, the game has also generated a new question:
Why is Brady vs Belichick scheduled so early?
Some wonder why the game wasn’t scheduled for December, as playoff drama would certainly raise the level of hype. It could also have allowed for drama to build throughout the season to a climax later in the year.
However, it is now clear why the schedule-makers wanted to keep it early in the season. Howard Katz, the NFL’s senior VP of broadcasting, had this to say while talking to Peter King of NBC Sports (sourced from CBS):
“[Week 4] is less about whether these teams are fighting for division races, playoff implications, less likely to have an injury, less likely to have weather,” Katz told King. “The story can be about Brady’s return. It would be different if Tom’s standing on the 50-yard line watching a tribute video in November in six inches of snow. Or, the later in the season we go, the more likely somebody’s injured. Getting in early, having that story told, made some sense.”
In other words, the league went with the conservative option. The riskier move would have been to keep the game until later in the season. The payoff could have been higher but it was also risking the ability to have a quality game at all. If Tom Brady ends up watching this game from the sidelines, it would be a huge disappointment for the league.
Tom Brady will be 44 years old when this game takes place so it makes some sense to do as much as possible to make sure that he is healthy when he arrives in Foxborough.
Also, considering how rarely the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots face each other (usually once every four years), this might be the only shot the league gets for this game. Unless, of course, the Buccaneers and the Patriots make the Super Bowl.