“Welcome back to Foxborough Mr Brady, my name’s Cam Newton and I'll be your opposing quarterback for this evening's entertainment. Good luck, you’re going to need it.”
The Brady vs. Belichick narrative will dominate the pre-game news, but the Patriots head coach won’t be under center for New England in this colossal clash.
Newton or Jones? Who will start for the Patriots?
Six-time Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Belichick will have to decide which quarterback will start against his former charge Tom Brady and the Bucs.
When Cam Newton re-signed with the Pats this offseason, the decision looked obvious. After the New England front office drafted former Alabama QB Mac Jones in the first round, it wasn't so obvious anymore.
It would be a big call to go with the rookie in such a big game but if Jones impresses in pre-season, he could start for the Pats in Week 1.
The safe pick is to go with the NFL veteran Newton and that’s what most believe Belichick will do. There are some valid reasons for the Patriots head coach to be confident in selecting Newton over Jones. Here are a few.
#1 - Big-game experience
Cometh the hour, cometh the man.
There isn’t a bigger regular-season game on the NFL schedule than Bucs vs. Patriots in Week 4. The NFL world will be tuning in to watch what happens when Tom Brady goes up against his former team and head coach Bill Belichick for the first time.
Pats QB Cam Newton has big-game experience, that's for sure. Yes, Mac Jones played in the college national championship game but that’s a different level of pressure.
Newton has played ten seasons in the NFL and has started several must-win and high-pressure fixtures.
In 2015, he led the Carolina Panthers to victory in the NFC Championship and an appearance at Super Bowl 50. He knows what it takes to handle the pressure of a big NFL game.
#2 - Scrambling abilities
While all the focus will be on Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is a frightening prospect for any quarterback to face. Just ask Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who was utterly dominated and harassed during last season’s Super Bowl.
Cam Newton has the size and ability to scramble out of trouble and avoid taking big sacks from the Bucs defense. It would be borderline cruel to send rookie Mac Jones out there to face such a high-octane Tampa Bay defensive unit.
The last thing the Patriots want to see is their rookie QB suffering a serious injury in his first season in the league.
#3 - Newton is 2-0 vs. Brady
Cam Newton is undefeated against the GOAT, Tom Brady. He has beaten the Buccaneers quarterback twice in regular-season games. Those two wins came when Newton was the starting QB for the Carolina Panthers against the New England Patriots.
In those games, Newton threw for 525 passing yards and six touchdowns with 106 rushing yards and a passer rating of 128.2.
Pats fans will be hoping that he can repeat those performances against Brady, but this time in a new England uniform. Rule Cam Newton out at your own peril.