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One and Done - FFL: Week 4 | NFL: Superbowl

Super matchup between QBs Mahomes, Brady for NFL title

Wed Jan 27 2:33am ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer

There has never been a Super Bowl matchup of accomplished quarterbacks quite like the one coming up next week between Tampa Bay's Tom Brady and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes.

This will be the sixth Super Bowl matchup between former AP NFL MVPs, the second between former Super Bowl MVP winning quarterbacks and the first between players who had previously won both awards.

Brady has won a record six Super Bowl titles, four Super MVPs and three league MVP awards since becoming starter in New England in 2001.

Mahomes is just getting started in his career and already has one league MVP and one Super Bowl MVP to his credit and is back in the title game for the second time.

The first Super Bowl matchup of former league MVPs came in the 1976 season when Oakland's Ken Stabler (1974 winner) beat Minnesota's Fran Tarkenton (1975 winner).

Denver's John Elway was part of the next two MVP matchups, losing to San Francisco's Joe Montana after the 1989 season and beating Green Bay's Brett Favre eight years later.

Then it happened again in back-to-back seasons in 2015-16 with Denver's Peyton Manning besting Carolina's Cam Newton and Brady beating Atlanta's Matt Ryan.

Brady was also part of the only previous matchup of Super Bowl MVPs losing a rematch to Eli Manning and the New York Giants following the 2011 season.

This will also be the second time in NFL history that the past two championship quarterbacks are facing off in the title game. The only other time it happened came in 1943 when Washington's Sammy Baugh faced Chicago's Sid Luckman. Baugh had won the title with Washington in 1942 and Luckman with the Bears in 1941.

Brady is also the fourth quarterback to start Super Bowls for two franchises, joining Peyton Manning (Indianapolis and Denver), Kurt Warner (Rams and Arizona) and Craig Morton (Dallas and Denver).

CELEBRATE AT HOME: The Bucs will be the first team to play the Super Bowl at their home stadium, although two others got to play for the title in their home markets.

In the 1979 season, the Los Angeles Rams went to the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, where they lost 31-19 to the Steelers.

Five years later, the San Francisco 49ers won the title just a few miles south of their home at Candlestick Park with a 38-16 win over the Miami Dolphins at Stanford Stadium.

With a win Feb. 7, the Bucs will be the first team in the NFL, NBA, NHL or Major League Baseball to win it all at its home venue since the Golden State Warriors did it in the 2017 NBA Finals against Cleveland. Every title since then was clinched on the road or in a neutral site at the Super Bowl or in a coronavirus bubble.

The last time the NFL champion finished the season by winning a title at its own stadium came in the 1965 season when Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers beat the Cleveland Browns 23-12 at Lambeau Field in the final season before the Super Bowl.

GOING WILD: Tampa Bay was the first team in 10 years to make it to the Super Bowl despite not winning the division.

The Bucs are hoping to follow the path the Green Bay Packers took in the 2010 season when they finished second in the NFC North but went on to win the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh.

The Packers were the sixth wild-card team to win it all, joining the Oakland Raiders (1980 season), Denver (1997), Baltimore (2000), Pittsburgh (2005) and the New York Giants (2007).

No team has even made it to the Super Bowl after playing in the wild-card round since 2012 when Baltimore and San Francisco did it. The Ravens won that game 34-31.

KEEP IT CLOSE: No one has been able to blow out Patrick Mahomes since he took over as Chiefs starter in 2018. Mahomes has lost just nine games as a starter with the most lopsided being a 40-32 defeat to the Raiders this past October for his only loss in his past 26 starts.

He has also lost twice by seven points, twice by six, three times by three and once by one point. The last time Mahomes lost by more than one possession in a game came in his final year in college at Texas Tech, when the Red Raiders fell 66-10 to Iowa State on Nov. 19, 2016.

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Player Notes
Bud Dupree Jan 27 11:50am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree (knee), who tore his ACL in a Week 12 win over the Ravens on Dec. 2, said that he plans to be ready for training camp and is ahead of schedule in his rehab. "I'm feeling great right now," Dupree said. The star pass-rusher had eight sacks and 31 tackles before suffering the season-ending injury and had formed a two-headed pass-rushing monster with teammate T.J. Watt. After Dupree's injury, Pittsburgh's defense fell off the rest of the way. The 27-year-old played the 2020 season on the franchise tag for $15.828 million and will hit the free-agent market this offseason. The Steelers are unlikely to tag Dupree again, as they are projected to be well over the 2021 salary cap. Dupree should be in play in IDP leagues, if he's healthy, wherever he winds up playing next season.

From RotoBaller

Tom Brady Jan 27 11:40am ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said he doesn't plan on retiring from the NFL if he wins Super Bowl 55 over the Kansas City Chiefs. "Hell no. I'm going for two. If the Glazers will have me back," Arians said. The 68-year-old already retired following the 2017 season with the Arizona Cardinals due to medical concerns, but returned to coach the Buccaneers in 2019 after a year away from the game. If Arians were to retire, he'd likely leave the head-coaching job in the capable hands of either defensive coordinator Todd Bowles or offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. But with future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady on a two-year deal with Tampa, Arians might see things out for one more season in 2021.

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Antoine Winfield Jr. Jan 27 11:30am ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead (shoulder), who is dealing with labrum and additional shoulder issues he suffered during the NFC Championship win over the Green Bay Packers, has not been ruled out for the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to a source. Whitehead is going to try and play, but his practice status will be something to keep an eye on next week. The Buccaneers Defense, particularly their secondary, is going to need all the help they can get in order to try and slow down the Chiefs high-flying offensive attack. Standout rookie Antoine Winfield Jr., who missed the NFC Championship, is expected to return, so that's a plus for the Bucs defense. Whitehead had 74 combined tackles (nine for loss), two interceptions, two sacks, and a fumble recovery in 16 regular season games for Tampa.

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Russell Wilson Jan 26 11:40pm ET

The Seattle Seahawks are planning to hire Los Angeles Rams passing-game coordinator Shane Waldron as their offensive coordinator, according to a source. Waldron will take over for Brian Schottenheimer in Seattle. This is also notable for the Rams, as they are losing Waldron, Brandon Staley, Brad Holmes, Ray Agnew, Joe Barry and Aubrey Pleasant as assistant coaches this offseason. Head coach Pete Carroll said he'd like Seattle's offense to get back to more of a run-first approach next season, which is part of the reason why they parted ways with Schottenheimer after the offense crumbled in the second half after putting up huge passing numbers earlier in the year. Waldron was the Rams pass-game coordinator for the last three seasons, and he'll work closely with quarterback Russell Wilson to find out why he regressed late in the 2020 season.

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Jeff Wilson Jan 26 11:30pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers re-signed restricted free-agent running back Jeff Wilson Jr. to a one-year deal on Tuesday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The 25-year-old has 974 rushing yards in his three seasons with San Francisco and posted career- and team-highs of 126 carries, 600 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020. He saw more playing time throughout the year due to injuries to Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, but Wilson also played in just 12 games (three starts) due to ailments of his own. He finished with 733 total yards and 10 touchdowns. Wilson could have a bigger role to begin the year next to Mostert, as both Coleman and Jerick McKinnon could leave in free agency. If Wilson is sharing backfield touches only with Mostert, he'll be an RB3/flex with more upside in PPR formats.

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Kyle Rudolph Jan 26 10:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph expressed unhappiness with his role in the offense over the last two seasons and isn't willing to accept a pay cut heading into the 2021 season. Rudolph went from being the team's second- or third-leading receiver from 2015-18 to being an afterthought in the passing attack. The Vikings would gain $5.1 million in salary cap space if they were to release Rudolph, and they are projected to be $12.8 million over the cap. He has three years remaining on his deal, so they could also look to restructure his deal. The 31-year-old played in just 12 games in 2020 and finished the year on Injured Reserve with a Lisfranc sprain in his foot, while fellow tight end Irv Smith finished third in receiving with 365 yards and five touchdowns. Rudolph had 28 catches on 35 targets last season, his lowest output since 2014. With Smith on the rise, Rudolph is off the fantasy radar in redraft leagues heading into 2021 if he remains in Minnesota.

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DeVonta Smith Jan 26 10:10pm ET

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said that Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith's size -- he's listed at just 175 pounds on Alabama's roster -- is not a concern. "If you're a good player -- I mean, you can nitpick all you want about a guy's size -- good players are good players are good players," Flores said. Flores is coaching Smith's national team in the Senior Bowl this week. Smith won't practice or play this week due to a finger injury he sustained in the national championship against Ohio State, but the young pass-catcher is arguably one of the most productive college football wideouts and won the 2020 Heisman Trophy Award. He's an excellent route-runner with incredibly strong hands and could be an option for Miami at No. 3 overall in the draft, although he's expected to go a little later in the top 10 of the first round.

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Justin Herbert Jan 26 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi plan to build the Chargers offense in 2021 around second-year quarterback Justin Herbert. But Herbert will also be learning a new offense with a new head coach and offensive coordinator in just his second season. The Oregon product finished sixth in passing yards (4,336), 10th in touchdown passes (31), 12th in passer rating (98.3) and had only 10 interceptions in his rookie season. "He has a skillset that is elite," Lombardi said. "It appears that there's nothing that he can't do. He has an incredibly strong arm, good accuracy and he is very athletic." Herbert's 31 passing touchdowns was the most for a rookie QB. With his arrow pointing firmly upward, the 22-year-old will be a midrange QB1 with upside in 2021.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Jan 26 5:00pm ET

Teams are already reaching out to the Detroit Lions to initiate trade talks to figure out what it will cost to acquire quarterback Matthew Stafford, according to sources. With a new general manager in place and a new coaching staff for 2021 and beyond, it was reported last weekend that the Lions have mutually agreed to part ways with Stafford, so teams are already reaching out for the 32-year-old. Stafford missed eight games due to injury in 2019, but he was able to play a full 16 games this season despite dealing with multiple injuries. He finished the year with 4,084 yards on a 64.2 completion percentage with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Stafford doesn't have a ton of upside at this stage of his career, but the 2014 Pro Bowler could offer some nice value in fantasy drafts in 2021, depending on where he winds up. Stay tuned.

From RotoBaller

Jared Goff Jan 26 4:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead was non-committal on quarterback Jared Goff's future when asked if Goff might not be on the team next season. "Not going to get into specifics on those. That's the beautiful mystery of the future. Jared Goff is a Ram at this moment. It's way too early to speculate," Snead said. The Rams could add a veteran at the position to push Goff in 2021 if he's still on the roster. While Goff wasn't terrible last season -- 67 completion percentage, 20-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a passer rating of 90 -- he was too inconsistent in both real life and fantasy. It's unclear who Goff will be playing for in 2021, but if he stays in LA, he'll be a midrange QB2 for fantasy managers unless proven otherwise.

From RotoBaller

Nick Mullens Jan 26 4:20pm ET

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (elbow) underwent successful elbow surgery in late December, according to a source. The damage wasn't as extensive as initially feared and did not require Tommy John surgery. Mullens is expected to be 100 percent recovered for the start of training camp. It's great news for the 25-year-old, as Tommy John surgery would have likely kept him out for most, if not all, of the 2021 season. He was forced into eight starts with Jimmy Garoppolo injured last season, throwing for 2,437 yards, 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a QB rating of 84.1 in 10 overall games. Mullens will be a restricted free agent in 2021, but if he returns to San Francisco, he'll continue to hold the clipboard for Jimmy G.

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DeVonta Smith Jan 26 2:10pm ET

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner and one of the top prospects in the 2021 NFL draft, declined to be weighed or measured for height at the Senior Bowl weigh-in on Tuesday. However, he plans to do so at Alabama's pro-day workout this spring. He was listed at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds during the season, and his size is his lone scouting concern heading to the next level. Smith has 9 3/8-inch hands, 31 1/3-inch arms and a wingspan of 78 1/2. The talented pass-catcher injured a finger in the national championship game against Ohio State and will not compete in practices or the game this week. Smith caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior and is projected to be a top-10 pick in the first round because of his exceptional route-running skills and strong, sure hands.

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Aaron Rodgers Jan 26 2:00pm ET

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was uncertain about his future with the team after the NFC Championship loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday, but chief executive officer Mark Murphy said the team won't let him go. "There's no way in heck Aaron is not gonna be on the Packers," Murphy said. "He's going to be the MVP of the league, might have had his best year ever, he's our unquestioned leader, and we're not idiots." Rodgers is 37 years old and has three years left on his deal after the Packers drafted his expected successor, Jordan Love, in the first round last year. Green Bay won't take on a huge dead salary cap number in 2021, but they could go in another direction in 2022 when his number drops to $17.2 million. After his MVP season, Rodgers isn't going anywhere just yet and will be more expensive in 2021 fantasy drafts as a QB1 than he was heading into the 2020 season.

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Antonio Brown Jan 26 11:40am ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee) and rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) are expected to be ready to play in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7, according to sources. Both players missed the NFC Championship win over the Packers. Brown was injured in the Divisional Round against the Saints and played just a handful of snaps in the second half. The 32-year-old had five touchdowns in his last five games and will be a touchdown-dependent fantasy play in the Super Bowl. His return could mean fewer looks for Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller. Winfield was injured in practice late last week and was unable to play on Sunday. His return to Tampa's secondary will be a welcomed addition as the Bucs attempt to slow down KC's high-flying aerial attack with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

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Sammy Watkins Jan 26 11:30am ET

Kansas City Chiefs running back Le'Veon Bell (knee) and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) are expected to be ready to play in the Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Feb. 7, according to sources. Both players were inactive for the AFC Championship win over Buffalo. Watkins played in just 10 games during the regular season and also missed time with a sore hamstring and didn't play in either of KC's playoff games. He finished the regular season with 37 catches for 421 yards and two touchdowns and will be a boom/bust dart throw in DFS for the big game. Mecole Hardman will be a much more attractive play than Watkins. Bell had 254 rushing yards in nine games for the Chiefs and will likely see scraps behind rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams against Tampa.

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Martavis Bryant Jan 26 3:13am ET

Free-agent WR Martavis Bryant (Raiders) signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League Monday, Jan. 25.

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Cordarrelle Patterson Jan 25 10:53pm ET

Chicago Bears impending free-agent RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson is likely a player the Bears will look to re-sign this offseason.

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Marvin Jones Jan 25 10:13pm ET

Detroit Lions impending free-agent WR Marvin Jones could be an option for the Tennessee Titans if the Titans decide not to re-sign impending free-agent WR Corey Davis this offseason, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Turron Davenport.

Fantasy Spin: Jones is coming off a terrific season and should receive interest from multiple teams in free agency. He would be a starter if he signed with the Titans and can be at least a No. 3 fantasy receiver no matter where he signs.

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Jordan Whitehead Jan 25 6:53pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Jordan Whitehead's (shoulder) availability for Super Bowl LV is uncertain at this point because of the shoulder injury he suffered during the NFC Championship game, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

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Mark Andrews Jan 25 6:33pm ET

Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews is one of the players the team will try to sign to a contract extension, according to general manager Eric DeCosta.

Fantasy Spin: Andrews is a big part of the passing game for the Ravens and probably will receive a new deal at some point this offseason. He should be a weekly starting option in fantasy leagues in 2021.

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