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AROUND THE NFL: Stopping slide against Chiefs would straighten out Brady and Bucs

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (left) and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady chat after a game last season. Brady, who has since joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be looking to right the ship against Mahomes’ 9-1 Chiefs this weekend. 
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (left) and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady chat after a game last season. Brady, who has since joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be looking to right the ship against Mahomes’ 9-1 Chiefs this weekend. 

When the NFL schedule was released in early May, Week 12 offered a tantalizing possible Super Bowl preview featuring the quarterbacks who have won the last two.

Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady could very well still meet up on in Tampa on Feb. 7, the scheduled date for this season’s championship game. But while Mahomes has led the Chiefs to a 9-1 first-place record in the AFC West — and is the No. 1 rated QB and the favourite to win his second league MVP award in three years — Brady and the Buccaneers are sagging.

The GOAT has thrown five interceptions as Tampa has lost two of its last three, dropping to 7-4 and with only a slim chance of catching New Orleans in the NFC South. And the fall has been slippery.

On U.S. Thanksgiving Day morning, a headline in the New York Post focused on the speculation of a growing rift with his coach: “Whispers of Tom Brady-Bruce Arians ‘tension’ are growing.”

Under it, the lede of the story pointed out that Arians’ chastising Brady has become a pastime in Tampa Bay this season.

An exaggeration, of course, but Arians has pointed a finger at his six-time Super Bowl-winning leader, most recently after last Monday’s 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

“There’s a lot of theories, obviously it was supposed to work better than this, but one of them is that there is real tension,” NFL Insider Dan Graziano said Wednesday on ESPN’s Get Up, adding that its based on pre-conceived notions the coach had of the quarterback before they were united in March.

“It’s almost like Arians was watching some sort of movie star action-hero, and then met him in person and said, ‘I thought you’d be bigger.’”

Brady, who has never been good at hiding frustrations, has been getting bashed for his unsportsmanlike actions following a couple of losses.

While he did congratulate fellow future Hall of Famer Drew Brees after being defeated by the Saints twice, he snubbed Nick Foles and Jared Goff after losses to the Bears and Rams. When both went looking to shake his hand after the game, Brady was already well on his way to the locker room.

Win or lose, the cameras will be finding Brady after Sunday’s game. It’s hard to imagine he’ll avoid Mahomes, whom he beat in the AFC championship game two years ago.

Earlier this week, Mahomes harkened back to what Brady said to him following that 37-31 overtime loss, bringing to an abrupt end the former’s first season as a starter.

“He just grabbed me after the game … I was kind of leaving the stadium and they had obviously been celebrating going to the Super Bowl,” said Mahomes. “He just talked about how he respected how I did everything the right way and stuff like that. It’s just cool to have a guy of that stature, who has won championships it seems like year in and year out, that has respect for your game as much as you have respect for his. It was definitely a cool experience, that I was able to know that I was doing things the right way early in my career.”

While he’s become the face of the NFL, Mahomes doesn’t consider himself at Brady’s level yet.

“He’s someone that’s a global star,” said Mahomes. “I just try to be a normal guy and live it up with my teammates, and have fun doing it.”

Brady does have a 2-1 lead on Mahomes in their career head-to-heads, with all three games being decided by seven points or less.

If he can pull off an upset against the Chiefs on Sunday, it could get the Bucs straightened out.

Who knows, their Week 12 could still serve as a Super Bowl preview featuring the quarterbacks who have won the last two.

COVID-19 UPDATES

Reigning MVP Lamar Jackson has tested positive for COVID-19, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, citing sources. The Ravens star quarterback joins a growing list of Baltimore players that have been added to the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list this week. The Ravens, who have positive tests for four consecutive days, will not name which of their two strength and conditioning coaches they are disciplining after being deemed responsible for their outbreak. That doesn’t sit well with Steelers cornerback Joe Haden, who tweeted: “They always got our names blasted across the TV screen when we break the rules. Put a face on it.” He does make a good point … Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald has tested positive and it will not play in Sunday’s game versus New England …The Browns closed their facility after having had a player test positive for three days in row — on Thursday it was DE Porter Gustin. They now have three defensive ends out: Gustin, Joe Jackson and Myles Garrett … The Falcons also worked remotely after two non-coaching staff members tested positive.

INSIDE THE HUDDLE

For the second straight day, Foles was unable to practice, which means its almost a certainly that Mitchell Trubisky will be the Bears quarterback when they visit the Packers on Sunday night … Rams have placed their leading tackler, Micah Kiser, on IR with knee injury … When the Bucs signed free agent offensive lineman A.Q. Shipley back in August, they added a veteran who had played for Arians in Arizona and knew his system. It now looks like the reunion is over after just 11 games, and the Bucs are going to have to do some shuffling. The 34-year old Shipley, who had recently become a key part of the protection as Tampa’s starting centre, suffered what was at first thought to be a stinger while Brady was throwing an interception in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss to the Rams. “A.Q. Shipley appears to have had a career-ending injury,” Arians told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday. “And I feel bad because I love A.Q. He’s one of my favourite players of all time and he was playing good for us. But I think it was a previous injury that just got aggravated in his neck.”

FROM THE LIONS DEN

The Houston Texans forced just five turnovers in their first 10 games before Thursday, when they had three in the first half, including two on back-to-back plays … Defensive end J.J. Watt had Houston’s third interception of the season, a Pick-Six off Matt Stafford. No surprise Watt performs well in early games. One tweet of his this week: “Most nights before I go to bed, I will lay six strips of bacon out on my George Foreman Grill. Then I go to sleep. When I wake up, I plug in the grill, I go back to sleep again. Then I wake up the smell of crackling bacon.”

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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