Maybe because they’ve been so dominant for so long, those that are tired of the NFL’s oligarchs – Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and The Gronk – look for clues of erosion within the New England Patriots as a hopeful sign the terror will soon be over.
On Sunday in Jacksonville, a possible sign of corrosion presented itself.
Led by Blake Bortles, perhaps the NFL’s most-maligned quarterback, the Jaguars avenged last season’s loss in the AFC championship game by beating the Patriots 31-20.
Without running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) as an alternative power source, Bortles completed 29-of-45 passes for 377 yards and four touchdowns and added 35 yards on the ground. By comparison, Brady threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns.
Jacksonville came into the game 0-8 against Brady and 1-11 against the Patriots. So much for that.
And now the rush will be on this week to appoint the Jaguars, along with the rising Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers, as the new powerhouses in the AFC.
Our advice is for everyone to calm down. History is replete with examples of why it is not smart to prematurely discount the Patriots.
Last season, the Patriots were crushed by the Chiefs in Week 1 then lost to the Carolina Panthers three weeks later. Unless we are mistaken, the Patriots played the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.
Three years earlier, New England lost to the Miami Dolphins and Chiefs in the first four weeks, then won Super Bowl XLIX.
And in 2012, they lost two of their first three then made it to the AFC Championship game.
“It’s a long year,” Brady said after the game. “I think if you have a bad day against a good team, that’s a recipe for losing. We certainly had a bad day. You’ve got to learn from bad days. Things don’t magically happen. You’ve got to make them happen. All of us have to have more urgency to do things right more often.”
The Patriots take on their former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in the Week 3 Sunday night game. In other words, the Patriots are on to Detroit.
Mahomes A Chief Contributor
The Chiefs gambled with their future during the offseason by trading a very competent veteran, Alex Smith, to the Washington Redskins so that highly-touted Patrick Mahomes, who turned 23 on Monday, could be their quarterback.
Two weeks into the season, the move looks like it may be exactly what the team needed to grow.
Mahomes, the son of a former Major League pitcher, has set an NFL record by throwing 10 touchdown passes in the first two games of a season.
He was 23-of-28 for 326 yards and six TDS in Sunday’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the organization’s first in Pittsburgh in 32 seasons. Not since 1991 against Buffalo and Jim Kelly had the Steelers allowed six TD passes in once game.
There’s more: The six TD passes were the most by a Chiefs QB in one game since Len Dawson in 1964. Mahomes now has five more TD passes than incompletions and his passer rating is 154.8.
“You never expect to have 10 touchdowns at this point in the season, but I knew that this offense, the weapons that we have and the scheme Coach [Andy] Reid has drawn up that we had a chance to be really, really good,” Mahomes said. “The possibilities are endless. We can really come out every single week and score points.”
Old Pro, New Magic
Tiebreaker.com would like to offer Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick an apology for referring to him before the season as the symbol of an organization treading water. How silly of us.
Fitzpatrick has been so much more during the first two weeks of the season. On Sunday, he threw for 402 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Bucs to a 27-21 win over the Eagles.
On the first play of the game, he hit former Eagle DeSean Jackson for an 85-yard score. In the second quarter, Fitzpatrick and O.J. Howard hooked up for a 75-yard TD.
The Harvard man has thrown for eight touchdowns and more than 800 yards so far and scored a ninth TD rushing. Four of those scoring passes have been for more than 50 yards, tying him with Joe Namath  for the most bombs in the first two weeks of a season.
Fitzpatrick has become the first QB in Tampa’s history with four TD passes in consecutive games.
Since the Bucs are 2-0 for the first time since 2010 – with Fitzpatrick subbing for the suspended Jameis Winston – you wonder what the team will do when Winston returns from suspension in Week 4.
Cousins Is Worth The Cash
Kirk Cousins came into the season with more pressure on him than any other player in the league. By now, you all know why. He signed a $84 million deal with the Vikings who managed to advance to the NFC Championship game last season with three quarterbacks who are no longer on their roster.
Even though the Vikings and Green Bay Packers played to a 29-29 tie on Sunday, it seems clear that Minnesota knew what it was doing by investing in a new quarterback.
Cousins completed 35-of-48 for 425 yards, four TDs and just one interception. It was the fourth time in his career than he’d thrown for four scores. He has 669 yards passing with six TDs and only one interception and a 65.5 completion percentage.
Browns, Vikings Give Kickers The Boot
On Monday, the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings proved again the best way to kick yourself out of the league is by missing big kicks.
The Browns released kicker Zane Gonzalez and the Vikings dumped Daniel Carlson after both had miserable days on Sunday.
Carlson beat out Kai Forbath in training camp but missed three field goal attempts in the Vikings’ 29-29 tie with the Green Bay Packers, including two in overtime, the final from 35 yards.
To replace him, the Vikings have signed former Dallas kicker Dan Bailey, the second-most accurate kicker (88.2 percent) in league history, After seven years with the Cowboys, he was cut before the season after struggling with groin issues in 2017. He missed four games last season and even missed the only two extra points of his career. Before signing with the Vikings, he reportedly turned down many offers intent to find the right one.
Gonzalez failed to deliver eight points (two field goals, two extra points) that likely would have prevented the Browns’ 21-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Cleveland replaced him with former Dolphins’ kicker Greg Joseph, who apparently beat out Cairo Santos and Blair Walsh during a hastily convened tryout on Monday.
“I was cussing myself out in my head,” Gonzalez said after the game. “I was really upset about it, but like I said, it is on me 100 percent, and I can’t be too mad at myself and I can’t blame it on anyone else. It sucks because we were so close to that win and it has been so long, and I just let everybody down.”