The stars are aligning for Tom Brady's return to New England.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Week 4 matchup with the Patriots at Gillette Stadium already is one of the most highly-anticipated regular-season games in NFL history, as Brady will play his first game in Foxboro since his two-decade New England tenure ended in March 2020.
That matchup became more intriguing when the Patriots gave the starting quarterback job to Mac Jones, who some view as the potential heir apparent to Brady. But Brady can remind New England fans he's the GOAT on Oct. 3 -- in more ways than one.
After throwing for 379 yards in the Bucs' season-opening win over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night, Brady is now 776 passing yards away from overtaking Drew Brees as the NFL's all-time passing yards leader.
So, if Brady averages about 260 passing yards over his next three games, he'll finish that Bucs-Patriots game as the league's career passing leader -- and break Brees' record against his former coach, Bill Belichick. (H/t to The Boston Globe's Ben Volin.)
That scenario seems highly likely: The Bucs' next opponent is the Atlanta Falcons, who allowed an NFL-high 293.6 passing yards per game last season. The Los Angeles Rams, who boasted No. 1-ranked pass defense in 2020, present a stiff challenge in Week 3. But if Brady goes for 300 yards against Atlanta, he'll need just 476 passing yards over his next two games (238 yards per game) to break the record in Foxboro.
Considering Brady threw for over 250 yards 10 times last season (and topped 300 yards eight times), we'd say that's a safe bet. And we're sure the 44-year-old will have plenty of motivation to make history against the team that let him walk in free agency after six Super Bowl titles in 20 years.
Conversely, Belichick will have plenty of motivation to prevent his former QB from making history on his turf. So if for some reason you haven't marked this game on your calendar, do so now -- with the note that NFL history could be made.