The New England Patriots will need every edge they can possibly get when they host Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night. The defending Super Bowl champions are seven-point favorites as they make the trek to Foxboro.
The highly-anticipated showdown will be a spectacle unlike any other NFL regular-season game before it. We can expect emotions to be running high for Brady, Bill Belichick, Patriots fans and all those who were a part of New England's historic 20-year run. Perhaps the Patriots can use those emotions to their advantage.
On a brand new episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran asked Matt Cassel and Phil Perry whether an over-the-top ceremony for Brady could play with the 44-year-old QB's emotions and give the Patriots a competitive advantage.
"I think that Sunday night is not going to be perhaps as bitter between the protagonists as we think. I think it would be genius on the part of the Patriots to go over the top in celebrating Tom Brady," Curran said. "Over the top. Make him reach into his facemask and wipe his eye because you put together the most moving, memorable video that he could possibly imagine. Get the edge, soften him up."
Cassel agrees the Patriots should pull out all the stops for Brady, but not just for the sake of the potential competitive advantage.
"Soften him up, let him remember all those wonderful moments that he had with the Patriots," Cassel said. "But deservedly so, too. If this is the last time that Tom Brady comes to play at the Patriots' stadium, he deserves this warm welcoming. He deserves them to give him the credit and also be recognized for all of his incredible accomplishments here with the Patriots.
"At the same time, you're not going to treat this like a normal game. This is an icon for the city of Boston, for the New England Patriots. A Hall-of-Fame player, the best player to ever play. So, it would be regretful from the Patriots' standpoint if they don't recognize (him)."
When it comes down to it, Cassel doesn't believe an over-the-top ceremony will impact Brady's performance one way or another. The seven-time Super Bowl champion has had his fair share of experience with emotional games over the years.
"He's gotta anticipate that some of this stuff will go on. And Tom, being the guy that he is, having the career that he's had, no matter what whether you show him the video or not, I don't think that's going to be very impactful in terms of how he approaches the game," Cassel said. "Because at the end of the day, as we know, the ultra-competitive side of Tom Brady is going to want to go out and have a day."
Also discussed in this episode: Is Belichick taking shots at Brady for taking the Patriots’ offense to Tampa? How can the Patriots’ defense slow down the Buccaneers’ offense? Who has the advantage: Brady or Belichick? And does Bill regret not sticking with Brady for longer?