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Drew Brees, Tom Brady reminisce about their 1999 Big Ten battle


New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ rivalry with Tom Brady goes back to college.
Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees and Tom Brady will square off Sunday when the New Orleans Saints host the New England Patriots at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

While the two of course went on to careers worthy of canonization in Canton one day, the veteran signal-callers actually go “way back,” as Brees put it, to a Big Ten battle in 1999 between Brees’ Purdue Boilermakers and Brady’s Michigan Wolverines.

Brees took some time this week to reminisce about their battle on the college football gridiron way back when.

“For me, standing on the sideline across from him, to me it was obviously Brady’s team,” Brees recalled of the match-up, via ESPN. “And yet he had to share time with this freshman [quarterback Drew Henson]. And yet, man, his approach and his discipline during that time … he played at such a high level, but he just worried about what he controlled.

“But I think that that probably shaped and molded a lot about him. A little bit of a chip on his shoulder, which has obviously served him well. And just a mental discipline and a mental toughness that’s unmatched.”

Brady also weighed in on the game all that time ago in Ann Arbor this week.

“We played ’em, maybe my senior year in the Big House, and we beat ’em,” Brady said this week. “He was really in a fun offense to watch. Joe Tiller was a great [coach]. My roommate [when I first got to the Patriots] actually played with Drew — Dave Nugent — and he had so many great things to say about him. And I just loved watching Drew play even back then. And what he’s done in the NFL and how prolific he’s been and how incredible their offenses have been, it’s really incredible.

“I have so much respect for him and everything he’s accomplished, everything that he brings to the table at the quarterback position.”

It’s clear the two quarterbacks form their own a mutual admiration society, and rightly so.

And just to clarify, Brady and the Wolverines blasted Brees’ Boilermakers in the game by a score of 38-12. Although Brees has bested Brady in four head-to-head battles in the NFL, winning three of them.

Perhaps the two will do even more reminiscing following Sunday’s game.

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NFL Week 2 Predictions


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title: ‘Houston at Cincinnati (-6.5)’,
description: ‘

Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET (NFL Network)

Two of Week 1’s most disappointing teams do battle here, and both have major issues at quarterback. Deshaun Watson will start for the Texans, as the Tom Savage Era lasted all of one game–at least for now. Andy Dalton, meanwhile, was putrid against Baltimore, posting a dismal 28.4 passer rating, while throwing four interceptions. Still, it is hard to imagine that Dalton will be that bad again, even against a Texans defense that has the tools to give him problems. What is also hard to imagine is that a shell-shocked Houston team will immediately rally behind a rookie quarterback who couldn’t win the starting job in the preseason. The Texans have some defensive studs, but the guess here is that the Bengals and Dalton get back on track.

Pick: Bengals

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
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title: ‘Minnesota at Pittsburgh (-6.5)’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

The ease with which Minnesota dispatched New Orleans, coupled with the rusty performance from everyone on the Steelers’ offense not named Antonio Brown makes this an intriguing, under-the-radar contest in Week 2. Minnesota’s offensive line held up, and Dalvin Cook burst on the scene as a versatile weapon for Sam Bradford. His debut, coupled with the work of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, gives Vikings fans plenty of reason for optimism. 

Meanwhile, the Steelers need to get Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant going, and need a much sharper Ben Roethlisberger. Todd Haley’s game plan allowed the Browns’ defense to dictate terms for large stretches of the game. It’s safe to say that in the friendly confines of Heinz Field, the Steelers will test Minnesota’s stout defense with plenty more downfield shots. T.J. Watt’s success in disrupting Bradford will also be key if the Steelers are to emerge victorious.

Pick: Steelers

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
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title: ‘Cleveland at Baltimore (-7.5)’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

Cleveland’s defense performed much better than expected against the Steelers in Week 1, holding them to 14 offensive points. DeShone Kizer did not look overwhelmed either, thanks to a collegiate-style game plan tailored to his strengths. He showed that, when given time, he can stand in and make some throws, though he walked into sacks much too often. 

Baltimore’s dominant performance was as surprising as any story in Week 1. The Ravens went on the road and harassed Andy Dalton into four interceptions, while sacking him five times. Joe Flacco’s numbers weren’t spectacular, but he didn’t have to do much to seal up a win. Baltimore will have to find a replacement for Danny Woodhead for the next month or so, but his absence shouldn’t hurt them much here. Kizer will find that playing on the road is a different animal, and Baltimore should be able to pin its ears back defensively and wreak havoc.

Pick: Ravens

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
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title: ‘Buffalo at Carolina (-7.5)’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Bills got a season-opening win last week, but it doesn’t feel unfair to suggest that they might not get many more over the next 15 games. LeSean McCoy was his usual superb self, carrying the team to a win over the Jets, but he’ll likely find the going much tougher against a Carolina team that churned out a workmanlike win over San Francisco. For their part, the Panthers would doubtless like to get Kelvin Benjamin going. For all the talk about first-round pick Christian McCaffrey, Benjamin remains a major potential difference-maker in the passing game. He only managed one catch for 25 yards on five targets against San Francisco. Look for those numbers to go up as teams key on McCaffrey, and Cam Newton shakes off the last of any remaining rust.

Pick: Panthers

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


}
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title: ‘Arizona (-7.5) at Indianapolis’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

Arizona’s season took a serious hit with the news that David Johnson would miss 2-3 months after wrist surgery, but the hangover from that news should hold off for one week, at least, as the Cardinals get to play what appears to be a truly hapless Colts team. Indianapolis delivered the most embarrassing performance of Week 1, and even with the built-in excuse of Andrew Luck’s injury, it’s fair to wonder whether or not Chuck Pagano’s time as head coach might be running out. The Colts made Jared Goff look pretty good, so even without Johnson at his disposal, Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald should be able to carve up Indy’s defense at their leisure. 

Pick: Cardinals

Gregory Shamus-Getty Images


}
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title: ‘Tennessee (-1.5) at Jacksonville’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

Jacksonville’s dominant win over Houston was one of Week 1’s major surprises, but their test is much tougher against Tennessee this week, even with the game in Jacksonville. The Titans were beaten by Oakland primarily because Derek Carr finished drives with touchdowns and Marcus Mariota did not. Mariota, however, isn’t likely to self-destruct the way Tom Savage did, so the Jags will have to earn everything they get. Leonard Fournette was impressive in his debut, and will need to carry an even heavier load for the offense with Allen Robinson lost for the season. Tennessee will look for much greater chemistry and production between Mariota and Eric Decker. Decker was targeted eight times, but finished with just three catches for 10 yards.

Pick: Titans

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports


}
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{
src: ‘/media/5/7/57ecdf6ad7837abeb7590dfcd64bce275ff586ec/xl/USATSI_10264959.jpg’,
title: ‘Philadelphia at Kansas City (-4.5)’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

Considering the stage and opponent, no one had a better first week than Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt. The vaunted Patriots’ defense had no answers for his speed, and more frighteningly for the rest of the AFC, Hunt’s presence seemed to embolden Alex Smith, who took plenty of shots downfield, while looking nothing like the conservative game manager he has frequently been dismissed as. Carson Wentz was also impressive in Week 1, but his task gets much tougher, as the noise in Arrowhead Stadium is a completely different animal than what he faced against Washington. Oh, and there is also the matter of Justin Houston, who looks fully back, dangerous, and capable of transforming Kansas City’s defense into a truly formidable unit, even without Eric Berry. 

Pick: Chiefs

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports


}
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title: ‘New England (-6.5) at New Orleans’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

Two teams coming off opening-week losses meet in this one, and while New England fans have plenty of reasons to be very optimistic, the same can’t be said for New Orleans’ partisans. The Saints looked listless and stale against Minnesota, getting sliced and diced by Sam Bradford, Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. To make matters worse, there already appears to be plenty of friction between Adrian Peterson and Sean Payton. New Orleans’ new-look defense did nothing to differentiate itself from its porous predecessors, and Tom Brady and the Pats will be out to make a statement. Unless the Saints can find a running game and some sort of defensive consistency, this could be a long, ugly afternoon for Drew Brees and company.

Pick: Patriots

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports


}
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title: ‘Chicago at Tampa Bay (-7)’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

There are no moral victories, especially in the NFL, and so it goes that Chicago’s narrow loss to Atlanta in the season opener is just that–a loss. Mike Glennon did enough to quiet Bears fans that would still rather see rookie Mitch Trubisky under center, and if Glennon is keeping Chicago in games, it would make sense to keep trotting him out there so that Trubisky isn’t thrown into the fire before he’s ready. Chicago’s defense hung in there against Matt Ryan, and while Jameis Winston isn’t on Ryan’s level, he’s clearly a young guy on the rise at the position.

Tampa Bay, because of Hurricane Irma, had an extra week off, and therefore extra time to get ready. There is little doubt that citizens of the Tampa area could use a distraction while they clean up from the storm, and the bet is that a talented, motivated and rested Buccaneers team will give them something to cheer about.

Pick: Buccaneers

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports


}
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{
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title: ‘Miami at Los Angeles Chargers (-4.5)’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

What happened to the Chargers Monday night was predictable. Philip Rivers played pretty well, but did much of his damage with his team playing catch-up. When they did pull to within three points, the Chargers couldn’t complete the comeback. It all added up to what many felt would happen, which was a close loss to a good Denver team sorting out its quarterback issues. 

There is plenty of intrigue surrounding the Dolphins, mainly because no one knows what to expect from Jay Cutler. Here’s a guess: Cutler throws a few touchdowns, makes some dynamic plays, then throws an interception or two that leave you scratching your head. Miami would be wise to lean on Jay Ajayi early and often to try to ease Cutler in as much as possible, and set up some low-risk shots downfield.

Pick: Dolphins

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports


}
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title: ‘New York Jets at Oakland (-14)’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

Last Sunday, we learned that Derek Carr is still a step or two above Marcus Mariota in NFL’s young quarterback hierarchy, and that Marshawn Lynch can still play. Lynch looked like he hadn’t missed a beat after sitting out a year, and Carr looked like a man ready to make the leap into the ranks of the league’s elite signal callers. Meanwhile, if the first week was a harbinger of things to come, the Jets seem destined to engage in a season-long battle with Indianapolis to see who will end up with the first pick in the draft. Fourteen points is an enormous spread for any game, let alone one this early in the year, but there’s no reason to think that this game will be particularly competitive. 

Pick: Raiders

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports


}
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{
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title: ‘Dallas (-2.5) at Denver’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)

The recipe for Dallas was simple against New York. Suffocate the Giants’ running game, force Eli Manning to win the day without Odell Beckham Jr. in the lineup, and play the hits on offense–namely Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. That kind of strategy might be more difficult to pull off on the road, even though Trevor Siemian isn’t the kind of name that immediately strikes fear in the heart of opponents. Denver’s defense figures to try and pressure Prescott and take away Elliott- which is much easier said than done. The clearest path to victory for the Broncos might be to try and control the game with C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles, and put Siemian in favorable situations as often as possible.

Pick: Cowboys

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
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title: ‘Washington at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5)’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)

Things don’t look half bad for the Rams after one week. Jared Goff was sharp, the defense accounted for two touchdowns and a safety against an undermanned Colts squad. On top of that, Aaron Donald ended his holdout, and seems poised to both start Sunday, and get a lucrative new contract, one that may well make him the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league. L.A.’s defense will get a huge boost with Donald back, which may spell trouble for Kirk Cousins. Cousins was a monument to inefficiency against Philadelphia, completing barely 50 percent of his passes, and notching his only touchdown thanks to a spectacular individual effort from Chris Thompson. If Washington wants to go on the road and win, they’ll have to get more from the running game, as Thompson and Robert Kelley combined for a paltry 34 yards on 13 carries. The temptation is to pick the Rams at home, with Donald back, but the fact that the Colts were the opponent in their dominant win gives pause.

Pick: Redskins

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/a/4/a4205f6e4ede6d5c7572f71a107a0cc2492019c6/xl/USATSI_10273609.jpg’,
title: ‘San Francisco at Seattle (-13.5)’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)

The test for Seattle figures to be much easier than it was in Week 1, with an offensively-challenged San Francisco team paying a visit. The Seahawks only managed nine points against Green Bay, which naturally led to speculation that the on-again, off-again feud between the offense and defense would flare back up. So far, indications are that it has not, and a command performance by Russell Wilson would go a long way towards smoothing out any potential tension. Seattle needs to find a running game to make Wilson’s life easier, but that might not be easy against a San Francisco defense that limited Carolina to less than four yards per carry in Week 1. Still, Seattle has a lot more talent, and should win easily.

Pick: Seahawks

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
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title: ‘Green Bay at Atlanta (-2.5)’,
description: ‘

Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET (NBC)

Atlanta survived a mediocre Bears team in Week 1, but will need to be much sharper against Green Bay in prime time. This figures to be a shootout between two of the league’s top five quarterbacks, and the game may well be a “first team to 35 points wins” kind of affair. Aaron Rodgers didn’t put up much in the way of points against a stout Seattle defense, but one assumes he’ll have an easier time moving the ball indoors against the Falcons. Still, in a battle between two great offensive football teams, I’ll take the one with more balance, not to mention the best non-quarterback on the field in the person of Julio Jones. 

Pick: Falcons

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/9/0/90eea89e9829d961a18909b26c14f3e66b20ad20/xl/USATSI_10232980.jpg’,
title: ‘Detroit at New York Giants (-4)’,
description: ‘

Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Are Eli Manning’s days as a top-tier starter over? He didn’t have Odell Beckham Jr., which certainly contributed to his inability to challenge Dallas downfield, but Manning also didn’t have the kind of game where he carried an undermanned offense to a win in a hostile environment. If Beckham returns, the offense should uptick considerably. However, his status is day-to-day, and it is anything but guaranteed that he will come back. Without Beckham, it’s hard to imagine the Giants’ offense being much improved. 

The Lions have an early breakout performer in wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who notched back-to-back touchdowns to help provide the winning margin against Arizona. Golladay, coupled with Golden Tate and Theo Riddick, gives the Lions a versatile group of receiving threats. They may not be able to run the ball against New York, but then again, they may not need to.

Pick: Lions

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports


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NFL Week 2 Predictions

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