Thu Sep 17 6:13pm ET
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wears a patch honoring Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard on his visor in the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. Pollard became the first African American head coach in the American Professional Football Association, renamed the National Football League, in 1921 for the Akron Pros. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, center, speaks to quarterback Cam Newton on the sideline in the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. At left is head coach Bill Belichick. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
SEATTLE (AP) When Bill Belichick replaced Pete Carroll as head coach in New England 20 years ago, neither could have guessed two decades later they'd be viewed as two of the better coaches during that span.
Yet here they are, leading their teams into Sunday night's matchup between Belichick's Patriots and Carroll's Seattle Seahawks. It's a prime-time showcase featuring two of the league's premier franchises, directed by two of the league's most respected coaches.
''You can't sustain this long and be consistent and win a lot of games for this long unless you got your act together, your game, how you play this game, how it works and all,'' Carroll said.
''Neither one of us are fly-by-night guys. There's a real fundamental connection that we were raised right by the people we grew up under. But I do think also it's a lot easier to stay with it when you win. It's hard if you get your butt kicked week in, week out. Hard to hold onto your jobs and these opportunities.''
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They may be separated by 3,000 miles and have met in the regular season just twice since Carroll returned to the NFL in 2010. But the admiration is obvious for what each has accomplished in their tenures with their current teams.
And while that admiration was clear when their teams met in the Super Bowl nearly six years ago, it seems to have only grown since.
''You're just trying to do a good job in the situation that you're in. The fact that we're still coaching and our paths are still crossing, I guess we've done pretty well or somebody would have replaced us,'' Belichick said. ''I have a ton of respect for all that Pete's accomplished, both at Seattle, USC, and other places in his career as well.''
Sunday's matchup between the 69-year-old Carroll and 68-year-old Belichick will bring together the two oldest coaches currently in the NFL and teams both seeking 2-0 starts after each had impressive debuts in Week 1. Seattle rode the arm of Russell Wilson in one of his best career games, throwing for 322 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-25 romp over Atlanta.
New England leaned on the legs of Cam Newton and a refreshed run game in a 21-11 win over Miami.
''Everybody's talking about me and Cam. I'm thinking about coach Carroll and coach Belichick,'' Wilson said. ''Two of the oldest guys in the game 69 and 68. That's the interesting matchup here.''
Jamal Adams was the best defensive player on the field in Week 1 for Seattle. In his debut with the Seahawks, Adams had a team-high 12 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. He was a disruptive force and managed to take some stress off middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
The Patriots have seen plenty of Adams in recent seasons when he was with the New York Jets before his trade to Seattle.
''He kind of controls the middle of the field,'' Belichick said.
MIXING IT UP
It was no secret the Patriots would run the ball more from the quarterback position this season with Newton taking over for Tom Brady.
That was the case in their Week 1 win over Miami as Newton racked up 15 carries and a team-high 75 yards rushing. But offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels hinted the Patriots could vary their game plan against a Seahawks defense that presents a much different look.
''I know we did some things that we really haven't done much of around here for a long time, or maybe ever,'' McDaniels said. ''We're going to be in the same boat that we always are, which is we try to adjust appropriately, (and) change week to week based on what we think gives us the best chance to have success.''
Patriots kicker Nick Folk wasn't perfect in Week 1, but he'll keep the job for now.
Neither Folk nor Justin Rohrwasser, a fifth-round draft pick in April's draft, began last week on the active roster after competing for the job in training camp. Instead, both spent the week on the practice squad before Folk was called up before the opener.
He went 3 for 3 on extra points in the win over the Dolphins, but also badly missed a 45-yard field goal attempt. He was sent back down to the practice squad after the game but signed to the active roster Wednesday.
New England is trying to bring some stability to the position after using three different kickers last season following Stephen Gostkowski's season-ending hip injury.
SOUND OF SILENCE
One of the loudest venues in the NFL will be silent for Seattle's home opener. No fans will be allowed in CenturyLink Field for at least the first three home games for the Seahawks. For a fan base that in the past has created seismic activity inside the stadium, it's a significant absence for the home team.
For the second time in his career, Belichick will be coaching a football game just days after the death of a parent.
Belichick's mother, Jeannette Belichick, died Monday of natural causes in Annapolis, Maryland. His father, Steve Belichick, died in 2005 two days before New England hosted New Orleans. The Patriots won that game, 24-17.
Five Hot Plays: Week 8
Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye made one field goal and a pair of extra points in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Slye didn't get many opportunities in this one, as Carolina made just one trip to the red zone against a surprisingly resurgent Falcons' defense. There's not much that a kicker can do when he's simply not seeing the opportunities. With that said, Slye may be needed more in Week 9 against Kansas City, as the Panthers will probably have to put up a lot of points to win.
The Carolina Panthers Defense had an average day in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Carolina registered two sacks and an interception, holding strong on Atlanta's first two trips to the red zone. However, they couldn't stop the Falcons from marching down the field, ultimately surrendering 25 points to their division rival. At this point, there's nothing to suggest that the Panthers' defense is worthy of streaming for fantasy purposes. Don't even think about starting them in Week 9, as they face the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel enjoyed his most productive game of the season in a losing effort against Atlanta. Samuel caught four of five targets for 31 receiving yards and carried the ball three times for 23 rushing yards. The 24-year-old made a nice run in the red zone to start the scoring for the Panthers, then hauled in a deep pass from Teddy Bridgewater on a flea-flicker. It's Samuel's second straight game with a rushing touchdown. This was an encouraging performance from the former Buckeye, though it's worth noting that he was held under 50 receiving yards for the seventh time in eight games. He'll be a low-end flex at best in Week 9 against the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas caught all three targets for 28 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. It was a juicy matchup for Thomas, but he certainly didn't exploit it, as his modest stat-line will support. His three targets were the most he's seen in weeks, though he seemed to surrender some playing time to fellow tight end Chris Manhertz. It's best to avoid Thomas completely until he picks up his production.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore had a quiet game in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons on Thursday Night Football. Moore caught two of six targets for 55 receiving yards, including a huge 42-yard reception on a 3rd-and-17 in the fourth quarter. In a strange turn of events, Moore went without a catch until the final drive of the fourth quarter. Fortunately, the 23-year-old still saw six targets, second on the team to only fellow wideout Robby Anderson. There should be better days ahead for Moore, as he had compiled at least 93 receiving yards in three straight contests coming into this one. He'll get a Week 9 matchup against Kansas City in what could turn out to be a high-scoring affair.
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis carried the ball 13 times for 66 rushing yards and caught one of two targets for 11 receiving yards in a loss to the Falcons. The 27-year-old disappointed in likely his last ride as the Panthers' lead back, as Christian McCaffrey (ankle) is expected to return in Week 9 against Kansas City. Davis was a PPR machine in McCaffrey's absence, with at least six targets in four games as the starter. He was so impressive at times that it's possible he earned himself a bigger role, though it likely won't amount to much with McCaffrey around to gobble up the majority of the touches. Keep Davis rostered until we find out McCaffrey is back for sure.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage finished Thursday's win with two receptions for 25 yards on three targets. Gage continued to show his inconsistency on Thursday after coming into the game having gotten at least 54 yards in the past two contests. The WR is definitely streaky, which makes him a risky play most weeks. An ankle injury suffered by fellow wideout Calvin Ridley is worth monitoring. If Ridley cannot play next Sunday, Gage's value will surely go up, but it would still be hard to trust him for good production given his lackluster numbers this season.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson hauled in five of eight targets for 48 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons. It could have been a bigger day for the former Jet, as he nearly made a one-handed touchdown grab on a throw from backup P.J. Walker, who came in relief of Teddy Bridgewater for one series. It certainly didn't help Anderson that Bridgewater was under constant pressure the whole night. However, his fantasy managers can take solace in the fact that he's now seen at least eight targets in six of eight contests this season. That sort of volume should keep him in the WR2 mix next week, even in a tough matchup against Kansas City.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had seven receptions for 137 yards on 10 targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. For the past three weeks, the WR has been playing at a tremendous level and has gotten at least seven receptions, nine targets, and 97 yards the past three games. His volume keeps him in the WR1 tier each week.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 15 of 23 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown along with 30 yards rushing on five attempts in a 25-17 loss to Atlanta. Bridgewater left the game after taking a nasty hit in the third quarter, but he was able to return after making it through the league's concussion protocol. The 27-year-old made some nice throws when he was given time, including a beautiful deep ball to Curtis Samuel on a flea-flicker. Unfortunately, he was constantly under pressure, as he was sacked twice and hit six times by the Falcons Defense. A bounce-back could be in the cards next week- Carolina may need to rely on Bridgewater's arm in Week 9 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley finished with three receptions for 42 yards on four targets in Week 8. The WR went down with an ankle injury in the first half of the game and didn't return. Managers will now have to monitor the status of the WR heading into the Week 9 clash against the Broncos.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst finished with five receptions for 54 yards on seven targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. Hurst has now seen seven targets in the past two games and has gotten at least 50 yards in four of the past five games. The TE has a decent role in this offense and the latest numbers are backing that up. Hurst should be considered a low-end TE1 each week given his consistency.
Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill finished with 11 carries for 55 yards and two receptions for nine yards on Thursday. It was the RB2 of the team who surprisingly led in rush yards, but this was a rare occurrence. Hill doesn't see enough weekly touches to merit good fantasy value going forward.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II finished Thursday night's win with 18 carries for 46 yards and a score. The back still had a decent night despite Brian Hill getting more rushing yards total. Gurley has now had at least 18 carries in the past three games and has three rushing touchdowns in the past two games. With a steady number of carries each week, the RB should remain in the low-end RB1/high-end RB2 tier every week.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan went 21-for-30 and gained 281 yards and one interception in the Thursday night win over the Panthers. It was a rainy game and many players were clearly affected by the conditions. Ryan finished with an average night, which he has sometimes had this season. With a high-powered offense, the QB should remain in the starting tier most weeks, but is most effective in favorable matchups.
Teddy Bridgewater, after being tripped while trying to scramble, took a shot to the head as he fell to the ground against the Falcons. Obviously, the first concern after a hit to the head is a concussion. Bridgewater's head abruptly twisted to the side and he went into the tent shortly thereafter. The Panthers' backup tonight is XFL sweetheart, P.J. Walker.
Calvin Ridley has been ruled out for the Falcons' Week 8 game against the Panthers. He was tackled by a defender and his left foot got caught under the defender. Ridley immediately grabbed his left foot and went to the locker room. His status for Week 9 will now be in question.
New York Jets running back La'Mical Perine has been buried on the depth chart for most of the season. However, head coach Adam Gase mentioned last week that he wants to get Perine more involved. Perine was on the field for 70 percent of the offensive snaps during the Week 7 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He saw 11 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown in the loss. He'll get a decent matchup here against the Kansas City Chiefs who are average against the run this season. Perine could be worth looking at as a desperation option for owners in need of a running back.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) was able to go through limited practice on Thursday. That is actually an upgrade since Crowder sat out of practice the day prior. Crowder has been basically the only bright spot for this team all season long. His absence would doom the Jets chances of doing anything at all on offense versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8. Crowder has seen 10 or more targets in each game that he has played in this season. He'll be a reliable WR2, assuming he suits up here.
New York Jets running back Frank Gore has seen a significant role in the backfield this season. The departure of Le'Veon Bell has opened up lead back duties for Gore over the last few weeks. Sadly, the Jets offensive line and team as a whole is horrible this season. Gore has done what he can, but will likely see his role decrease going forward. Head coach Adam Gase wants to see La'Mical Perine more involved in the offense. That means, Gore is going to be a tough option to trust versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8.