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Neil Reynolds: Does Tom Brady regret his NFL return after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffer another defeat?


Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 3-4 on the season after suffering another shock defeat on Sunday

Week Seven was a reminder that the NFL hasn’t shown a great deal of respect to reputations this season, with Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers suffering further defeats…

1) NFC powerhouses continue to struggle

We’ve seen some of these giant teams in the NFC with just three wins through the first seven weeks.

The Los Angeles Rams (3-3), the San Francisco 49ers (3-4), the Packers (3-4) and Buccaneers (3-4) all with just three wins.

Highlights of the Green Bay Packers against the Washington Commanders from Week Seven of the NFL season, with Aaron Rodgers' side slipping to a shock defeat

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Highlights of the Green Bay Packers against the Washington Commanders from Week Seven of the NFL season, with Aaron Rodgers’ side slipping to a shock defeat

Highlights of the Green Bay Packers against the Washington Commanders from Week Seven of the NFL season, with Aaron Rodgers’ side slipping to a shock defeat

It’s a reminder that nothing is forever in this game. You need to constantly refresh, recycle as team… the NFC is wide open and the strength is in the East right now in that conference.

Some powerhouses have come back to the pack.

2) Brady regrets over return?

I reckon Tom Brady, in his quiet moments – examining where his game is at right now – would regret coming back this year.

He could have walked away after winning the Super Bowl at the end of the 2020 season, or at the end of last year, having finished as the NFL’s leader in passing yards and touchdowns, but this is now hard to watch.

Highlights of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Carolina Panthers from Week Seven of the NFL season, with Tom Brady's side slipping to a shock defeat

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Highlights of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Carolina Panthers from Week Seven of the NFL season, with Tom Brady’s side slipping to a shock defeat

Highlights of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Carolina Panthers from Week Seven of the NFL season, with Tom Brady’s side slipping to a shock defeat

It’s not all on him. He can still make some amazing throws, but he’s an old-school quarterback and he simply can’t bail himself out from behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.

They’re not protecting him, and it’s three games now this year where they’ve rushed for fewer than 50 yards. Their offense is terrible and Brady is currently limping to the finish line.

On rumours of him possibly retiring mid-season… I would rule nothing out in the NFL. I have been doing a lot of work preparing for the Bucs-Seattle Seahawks game in Germany – I’ll be there for Sky Sports – and I’m curious to see whether Brady will be there.

3) Titans sneaking up on AFC

The Tennessee Titans are sending a gentle reminder to the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs that the AFC is not just a two-horse race, having secured their fourth-straight win on Sunday.

Highlights of the Indianapolis Colts against the Tennessee Titans from Week Seven of the NFL season

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Highlights of the Indianapolis Colts against the Tennessee Titans from Week Seven of the NFL season

Highlights of the Indianapolis Colts against the Tennessee Titans from Week Seven of the NFL season

They are having success in a very traditional way for them; star running back Derrick Henry leads the way, Ryan Tannehill at QB is asked not to make mistakes and they are well coached by Mike Vrabel.

They have a formula, they know precisely who they are, and they stick to it.

4) Burrow and Chase have Bengals in the mix

The Cincinnati Bengals have seemingly fixed the offensive problems that plagued them through the first few weeks of the season.

The offensive line is still a work-in-progress, but we’re now getting weekly reminders that Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are special! Burrow threw for 481 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, and most of that work was done in the first half.

Highlights of the Atlanta Falcons against the Cincinnati Bengals from Week Seven of the NFL season, with Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase playing a starring role

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Highlights of the Atlanta Falcons against the Cincinnati Bengals from Week Seven of the NFL season, with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase playing a starring role

Highlights of the Atlanta Falcons against the Cincinnati Bengals from Week Seven of the NFL season, with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase playing a starring role

The Bengals, like the Titans, are another one that are showing they’re not to be counted out. The AFC is crowded right now.

I enjoy watching the Bills and the Chiefs, and I would welcome their return to the AFC Championship game this season, but it’s not a given – because the Bengals could be thrown in the mix.

It’s a shame you can’t move one of them into the NFC because you’d almost be guaranteed a great Super Bowl every year.

Cincinnati Bengals wideout Ja'Marr Chase made an outstanding catch for a 32-yard touchdown, hauling in the ball in over his shoulder, beating two defenders

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Cincinnati Bengals wideout Ja’Marr Chase made an outstanding catch for a 32-yard touchdown, hauling in the ball in over his shoulder, beating two defenders

Cincinnati Bengals wideout Ja’Marr Chase made an outstanding catch for a 32-yard touchdown, hauling in the ball in over his shoulder, beating two defenders

5) Defense driving Dallas success

The Dallas Cowboys gave us another reminder on Sunday that, even with Dak Prescott now back at quarterback, their defense will continue to be the major factor as to whether they win or lose.

Highlights of the Detroit Lions against the Dallas Cowboys from Week Seven of the NFL season, with Dak Prescott winning on his return from injury for Dallas

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Highlights of the Detroit Lions against the Dallas Cowboys from Week Seven of the NFL season, with Dak Prescott winning on his return from injury for Dallas

Highlights of the Detroit Lions against the Dallas Cowboys from Week Seven of the NFL season, with Dak Prescott winning on his return from injury for Dallas

Micah Parsons continues to prove to be unblockable. But it’s not just him; DeMarcus Lawrence makes plays, so too Dorance Armstrong.

Now with Prescott back to balance the offense, the Cowboys look to be a complete team. It will be very interesting to see how far they can go the rest of the year. In a wide-open NFC, why not them?

Player of the Week: Kenneth Walker

The Seattle Seahawks’ rookie running back was fantastic on Sunday, a major factor in their road win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

Seattle Seahawks rookie Kenneth Walker all but seals their game against the Los Angeles Chargers with this brilliant run for a touchdown

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Seattle Seahawks rookie Kenneth Walker all but seals their game against the Los Angeles Chargers with this brilliant run for a touchdown

Seattle Seahawks rookie Kenneth Walker all but seals their game against the Los Angeles Chargers with this brilliant run for a touchdown

He has 168 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He looks the complete package; he can take it all the way to the house, he can run over defenders, he can be elusive.

No-one wanted to see Rashaad Penny taken out of this line-up because it was a fantastic one-two punch with him and Walker – it was a really unfortunate injury for him – but, strangely, more Walker for this Seattle offense could actually prove to be a good thing. He is looking very good.

Play of the Week: Breece Hall

I’m going to go with a different rookie running back for my Play of the Week, and Breece Hall’s long touchdown run for the New York Jets – 62 yards.

New York Jets rookie running back Breece Hall showed off impressive speed in taking this 62-yard touchdown to the house

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New York Jets rookie running back Breece Hall showed off impressive speed in taking this 62-yard touchdown to the house

New York Jets rookie running back Breece Hall showed off impressive speed in taking this 62-yard touchdown to the house

It was a great run, but also there was brilliant blocking up front. Alijah Vera-Tucker, in particular, pulled round and pulled off a great block to help spring Hall free to take it to the house.

And it sadly served as a sort of wave goodbye to both of those players, with both now lost for the year to injury – Hall with a torn ACL and Vera-Tucker with an elbow injury.

I wish them well and I hope they come back as strong as they left because they are part of that young core that the Jets are going to build around for years.

Coach of the Week: Steve Wilks

I’m going with the interim head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

Carolina Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks guided the team to a stunning win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday

Carolina Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks guided the team to a stunning win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday

How fitting was it that the first time we saw Carolina after they traded away their star running back Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers, that they rushed for 173 yards (and a TD) as a team. There were big days for D’Onta Foreman and Chubba Hubbard.

They’ve also got a really good defense in Carolina. Defensive end Brian Burns had a big day just a few hours after the Panthers said he wasn’t on the trading blog – despite first-round picks being offered for him. He is for real.

Wilks made sure his team was ready for the Bucs. Credit to him.

On my Radar: Broncos in rebuild mode?

I’m fascinated to see how things play out in Denver over the next week or so before the November 1 trade deadline.

There are lots of rumours that Jerry Jeudy is on the trading block, KJ Hamler too – even that star pass rusher Bradley Chubb could be moved on.

Could Denver Broncos receiver Jerry Jeudy be on the way out before the trade deadline on November 1?

Could Denver Broncos receiver Jerry Jeudy be on the way out before the trade deadline on November 1?

A potential fire sale by the Broncos, just after paying quarterback Russell Wilson a $245m contract extension, doesn’t really make sense to me.

You could argue that it does financially, because you can’t afford to have all of these other big contracts as well as Wilson’s, but if you’re going to bring him in, you’re doing it with the intention of winning now – and winning the Super Bowl.

It would look to me like they were giving up on that after seven games, sitting at 2-5. I’m going to be watching Denver very closely this week to see if they offload any of their star players. If they do, I would question whether everyone is on the same page?

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