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Does The Debate Over Tom Brady vs. Bill Belichick Already Have A Winner?

First, we talk about an NFL matchup two years and so many hot takes in the making: Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers returning to his old stomping grounds in New England to face his old coach, Bill Belichick. It’s Belichick with something to prove in the faceoff: His teams without Brady have in fact underperformed expectations, whereas Brady immediately went out and won a Super Bowl after leaving the Pats. But the sample sizes are still too small (and the narratives are much too potent) for the question to be completely settled, so the Hot Takedown team believes this clash will continue to be unduly hyped every time it happens.

Next, we turn to the world of college football, which has been turned upside down. Clemson has completely lost its grip this year on the ACC — although not so badly that we think it will hurt the prestige of the program. If Texas can coast, so can Clemson. But this rough stretch may be just that, as the Tigers remain highly ranked in recruiting prospects and Dabo Swinney continues to be a coach high schoolers will want to play for. If Swinney leaves, that might be a different story. A lot of the attention in college football right now is on Clemson’s misery, Georgia and Oregon’s strength, and whether Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler is or is not rattled. But the team is excited for underdogs to continue upsetting ranked teams. Sara and Neil think Arkansas can continue to make its fellow SEC teams sweat, and Geoff thinks Cincinnati can beat Notre Dame.  

Finally, we trade our usual Rabbit Hole for a bit of a “Get Off My Fairway” about the Ryder Cup. We’re happy the U.S. team won and interested in how it took down Europe: with very long balls and less annoying hats (the former from everyone, the latter more specifically from Bryson DeChambeau). But Sara and Geoff have a bone to pick with the idea of match play. While it does bring some fun comradery to the sport in place of the usual solitary test of golfer vs. the course, it also defrays a lot of the strategic thinking that makes stroke play so interesting. Save match play for when you’re out on the course with your friends. For actual tournaments, the Hot Takedown team feels you should make the pros sweat. 

What we’re looking at this week: 

  • Tom Brady remains the ultimate example of Bill Belichick’s successful but uncompromising ways. 
  • How Arkansas revived its program. 
  • The U.S. Ryder Cup team was historic in its length. 

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.