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 Sleepers: Week 8
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (knee) has been activated off the IR and will be available for Sunday's game against the Seahawks. Coleman last played in Week 2 against the Jets, where he suffered a knee sprain that kept him out until now. It's anyone's guess as to who leads this backfield after head coach Kyle Shanahan pulled a fast one on us all last week. The best guess is that Coleman leads the backfield, with JaMycal Hasty mixing in as a change-of-pace option and Jerick McKinnon operating as the third-down back. Coleman and Hasty are probably the best plays of the bunch, though they're hard to look at as anything more than flex plays against Seattle.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green will face the Titans in Week 8 fresh off two of his best games of the season. Green has at least 80 receiving yards in two straight games and has seen 24 targets over the last couple of weeks. That's elite-level volume that he may not be able to sustain with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins both playing great football, though it's clear that he and Joe Burrow are developing a strong connection. Tennessee struggles to defend opposing wide receivers, as they've surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to the position. Green can be started as a high-end WR3 with upside for more.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray gets a seemingly tough matchup against the Bears in Week 8. Chicago has allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to running backs but ranks 23rd in the NFL against the run. Murray has seen at least 10 touches in all but one game this season and could see some more opportunities in this one with the Saints down a couple of pass-catchers. Look for Murray to see around 10 touches again and check-in as an RB3 for Week 8.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow gets a middle-of-the-pack matchup against the Titans in Week 8. Burrow is coming off the best game of his young career, with 406 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception against Cleveland. Tennessee ranks 18th in fantasy points allowed to enemy passers, though they've allowed at least 250 passing yards and two touchdowns to each of the last three quarterbacks they've faced. Burrow is coming into this one hot with a full stable of weapons, so keep him in your lineups as a solid QB1.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee) has been placed on the injured reserve. Edelman had surgery on his knee and is expected to miss at least the next three games, though head coach Bill Belichick seemed optimistic about the veteran receiver returning at some point. It's safe to drop Edelman in all formats. With starter N'Keal Harry (concussion) also out, the Patriots will have to turn to Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, and Gunner Olszewski for three-wide receiver sets. Meyers and Byrd can only be used by the most desperate of fantasy managers, as the matchup against Buffalo is tough.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (shoulder, toe) doesn't have an injury designation and will take the field heading into a tough matchup against the Buccaneers. Shepard was limited all week in practice after sustaining a turf toe injury in Week 7 against Philadelphia in addition to the shoulder ailment- though he's evidently shown the Giants enough to be confident in his health. It won't be an easy matchup for Shepard against Tampa Bay, as they've allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts. Still, Shepard's eight targets from Week 7 indicate that he'll be a big part of the offense moving forward. Look at him as a solid WR3 option in Week 8.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (shoulder) and wide receiver Scotty Miller (hip, groin) are both good to go for Sunday. Both Gronkowski and Miller were limited on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, though they have no injury designations after both were full participants on Friday. Without Chris Godwin (finger), both players could potentially see more looks in the passing game. Look at Gronkowski as a solid TE1 and Miller as a risky WR4 against the Giants Defense on Monday night.
New York Giants running back Devonta Freeman (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This was expected, as Freeman was not able to take the practice field all week. He suffered the injury during the Giants' Week 7 contest against the Eagles on Thursday night, though the added time didn't help him heal any quicker. The Giants will turn to Wayne Gallman- who looked good in spurts against Philadelphia- as their lead back. He'll get enough touches to be started as a flex option, though it's hard to envision him finding much success against Tampa's league-best run defense.
New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore (knee) is out for a key Week 8 divisional clash against the Bills. There was a glimmer of hope on Thursday when Gilmore was able to get a limited practice session in, though Friday's DNP made his status for Sunday grim. New England doesn't have much depth behind last year's Defensive Player of the Year and is inconveniently about to face Stefon Diggs. Diggs was already a must-start based on his previous production and is now arguably a top-five wide receiver this week.
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said that running back Phillip Lindsay (concussion) will go for one more post-concussion evaluation on Saturday, but the team expects him to play in Week 8 against the Chargers, barring a setback in that test. It's bad news for Melvin Gordon, who will now share touches in the backfield with Lindsay, making him more of a low-end RB2/high-end RB3/flex. Lindsay was the better runner in Week 7, too, racking up 79 yards on nine carries. He's averaging just under five yards a carry and Gordon lost two costly fumbles against the Chiefs. Lindsay will be an RB3/flex option in PPR leagues if he can pass his final concussion test.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton (concussion) has been downgraded from doubtful to out for the Sunday night game against the division-rival Eagles in Week 8. This was the expectation all along after Dalton was unable to clear the concussion protocol or practice all week. Owner Jerry Jones thinks that the signal-caller will be ready to go for Week 9 against the Steelers, but we'll have to keep a close eye on his progress in the league's protocol. If he is available next week, he'd be a low-end QB2 against a tough Steelers Defense. Rookie Ben DiNucci will make his first career start against Philadelphia this Sunday, but he's also a low-end desperation QB2 in superflex leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop makes for a good play in a Week 8 matchup against the New York Giants. Succop has made at least five kicks in four straight games and has at least five extra points in two straight. There's no reason to doubt Tampa Bay's offense against the Giants, even though their defense has shown signs of improvement. Fire up Succop as a solid starting option this week.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense has been one of the best options for fantasy this year. They get their best matchup of the year in Week 8 against the Giants, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. The Giants' offensive line ranks dead-last in adjusted sack rate while Tampa Bay's defensive front ranks second in sack rate. This is a dream matchup for the Buccaneers' defense, so expect more than a few sacks and a couple of turnovers forced at the expense of Daniel Jones. The Buccaneers are probably going to be the highest-scoring defense of the week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski faces a semi-tough matchup in Week 8 against the Giants. Gronkowski has at least six targets and 50 yards receiving in each of his last three contests and has scored a touchdown in two straight games. The Giants are not the soft spot they used to be for tight ends- they've allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to the position. Still, Gronkowski is too hot to bench right now, especially with how thin the tight end position is for fantasy. He has a good chance of putting up top-12 numbers at his position in Week 8.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (calf) has been ruled out for Week 8's Sunday night matchup with the division-rival Cowboys. Jeffery still has yet to make his 2020 season debut and missed practice all week. The 30-year-old miss the start of the season after having offseason foot surgery, but the calf injury is what's holding him back of late. The oft-injured veteran might not even have much of a role once he finally does return, so he's not a very attractive stash in standard-sized leagues at this point. The Eagles will be getting tight end Dallas Goedert (ankle) and rookie receiver Jalen Reagor (thumb) back in Week 8 as well. Jeffery has become a fantasy afterthought.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Tyler Johnson will take the place of the injured Chris Godwin (finger) in Week 8 against the Giants. Johnson got the start in Week 5, playing a season-high 79 percent of the snaps and putting up a 4-61-0 line. With Brady currently rolling, it's fair to consider starting a player such as Johnson. There is some risk here, as the game script may tilt this towards a more run-heavy gameplan for the Buccaneers. Still, Johnson can be started by managers who are struggling with injuries or bye weeks.
New England Patriots running back Damien Harris (ankle) is listed as questionable for Week 8 against the division-rival Bills. Harris was a limited practice participant all week, so he should be able to suit up on Sunday against Buffalo, barring any setbacks. New England will need as much help as possible from their backfield this weekend with both receivers Julian Edelman (knee) and N'Keal Harry (concussion) out, but the Patriots crowded backfield and their stagnant offense are both big concerns for Harris' potential upside. Harris has seen double-digit carries in two of his three games this year, but he'll need positive game script to reach his ceiling this weekend, and that might be tough going against a strong Buffalo offense. With just two catches in three games as well, Harris is an uninspiring RB3/flex in this crowded backfield picture.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox (knee) and center Ryan Kelly (knee) are both questionable for Week 8 against the Lions. Alie-Cox didn't practice on Wednesday, but he was limited both Thursday and Friday. He sat out of the team's Week 6 game and rested up during the bye last week. The 27-year-old has a decent shot at playing this Sunday against Detroit, but his moment in the fantasy sun appears to have come and gone in 2020. Alie-Cox went over 100 yards receiving in Week 2 and scored in back-to-back games in Weeks 3 and 4, but he failed to haul in his only target in Week 5 when he was injured, and he's expected to take a back seat to Trey Burton moving forward.
Las Vegas Raiders rookie wide receiver Bryan Edwards (ankle, foot) is listed as questionable for Week 8 against the Browns. Edwards was limited in practice all week, so he definitely has a chance to return for the first time since Week 3. The third-rounder has caught five of his six targets for 99 yards in the first three games of his career, but he won't carry any fantasy appeal if he returns to action against Cleveland, as rookie Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow and Nelson Agholor should operate in three-receiver sets this Sunday. The Browns are an enticing matchup for wideouts; they've allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to them this year. Edwards might be able to make a splash play if he's active, but you can't trust him in fantasy lineups.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson II (concussion) has cleared the league's concussion protocol and is expected to play in Week 8 against the Saints. Robinson missed practice all week, making it seem unlikely on Friday that he would be able to suit up on Sunday. But it looks like fantasy managers can return him to their starting lineups for this weekend. Chicago's offense has been stagnant the last two weeks, though, which has limited A-Rob to nine receptions for 123 yards on 13 targets in that span. The Bears need to make their top receiver a bigger part of the game plan to get back in the win column, but the 27-year-old will be a WR2 for fantasy managers against New Orleans.