BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady’s return to New England is the most anticipated game of the 2021 NFL season. It will reportedly take place early in the campaign.

According to Bleacher Report, Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make their visit to Gillette Stadium on Oct. 3 in Week 4. Given it’s the biggest regular season game of the season, it will be that week’s Sunday Night Football matchup.

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The intrigue level is off the charts for the showdown, as it will mark Brady’s first game back in New England since he left for the Buccaneers last offseason. It will be his first game ever against his former head coach, Bill Belichick, and New England is the only NFL team that the quarterback has not beaten during his Hall of Fame career.

The Buccaneers went 11-5 during the 2020 regular season before beating the Washington Football Team, New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers in the NFC playoffs and the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9, in Super Bowl LV.

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The Patriots, meanwhile, went 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. New England signed a slew of free agents this offseason to bulk up on offense and defense, and also drafted quarterback Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick. Belichick announced during the draft that Cam Newton remains the team’s starter to begin the season.

The full 2021 NFL schedule will be released Wednesday night.

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CBSBoston.com Staff