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Michael Taylor 24th Oct 2009 - 13:45

Brady ready to make a big splash at NFL London

The weekend that every British NFL fan looks forward to each year is here as the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Wembley for the third edition of the brilliant NFL London series.

The home of English football was lucky enough to witness one of last year's most outstanding American Football matches when the New Orleans Saints held off the -San Diego Chargers to land a brilliant 37-32 victory.

Unfortunately things don't seem quite so equal this year what with Tom Brady back at his intimidating best and the Pats defence matching up to the expectations of the offence.

It wouldn't be such a problem if the Bucs had something thing about them, they just don't seem to though.

They went down 28-21 to the misfiring Carolina Panthers last week and that was with the help of a raucous Raymond James Stadium behind them - it seems unlikely that they'll get the same support in a country that boasts a huge Patriots following.

They also, in complete contrast to New England, have real quarterback problems with head coach Raheem Morris opting to bench Byron Leftwich after just three starts and replace him with their 2008 fifth round draft pick Josh Johnson.

Johnson is a good scrambler which could prove slightly problematic for Bill Belichick's side but only if the Bucs are able to establish a pass and rush threat as well.

Either way it may be academic because you have to fancy the 1/12 Pats winning the game, it's just a case of seeing whether the massive 14.5 spread give Tampa enough breathing space.

Personally I don't think it will, the main reason being Brady threw for five TDs in one quarter last week.

Fair enough they were up against a disastrously poor Tennessee Titans defence that lacked the presence of four or five regular defensive starters but it still gives a hint of their explosiveness.

Randy Moss had slightly faded away after his incredible 2007 but it appears he will be putting up some huge numbers for the duration of the season - we are 5/6 about the future Hall of Famer managing more than 99.5 total receiving yards.

Add in the threat of Wes Welker and you can see why Laurence Maroney enjoys so much success, despite him being only a slightly above average NFL back.

The other big reason why I can't see the Bucs having any sort of chance is the Wembley turf.

Both the two previous Wembley games have seen the pitch churn up, albeit not so terribly last year, which isn't such bad news for New England given the conditions they're used to in Boston but the same can't be said for sunny weather Florida.

One thing to remember is that Tampa will not be as bad as Tennessee were last week, or at least they shouldn't be.

In All-Star tight end Kellen Winslow, Johnson has a great target to aim for while Carnell Cadillac Williams has pace to burn and is a real threat in the open field.

Defensively they're nothing to write home about though, on average giving up 370 yards (27th in the NFL) and 28 points.

Basically it could come down to whether their offence can keep them in it - and for me, they can't.

I'll take the Patriots -14.5 side of the spread all day (10/11) and I also really like the even money you can get about Brady bringing his A game to London and throwing for over 299.5 yards.


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