Texans Patriots Football

The Patriots' Tom Brady throws a pass against the Texans Sept. 9 in Foxborough, Mass. 

If there's ever going to be a changing of the guard in the AFC, then Sunday's visit to Jacksonville by the Patriots would seem a perfect time.

Except when you look at the numbers that say Tom Brady doesn't lose to the Jaguars.


Jacksonville had a 10-point lead at New England in the second half of the AFC championship game last January when Brady worked his magic, helped mightily by the Jaguars' discomfort being so close to making the Super Bowl. It shouldn't have been a surprise in this matchup: Brady now is 8-0 against the Jags, the only AFC team without a win against the five-time Super Bowl champion and three-time league MVP. He has 19 TDs and two interceptions against Jacksonville while completing more than 70 percent of his passes for more than 1,800 yards.

So solving Brady, as it is for most teams, is a must for Jacksonville in this battle of opening-game winners that could wind up pivotal for the AFC playoffs.

"It's going to be an emotional environment," Brady said. "I think everyone, whenever you play some of the best teams, you want to see where you're measured up to, and that defense has been ranked very high all last year, and I could see why. We practiced against them. They were very good. They've got a lot of very talented players — some of the guys that are probably the best at their position. So, it's going to be a great environment for football."

Brady has 224 career wins, one shy of the NFL record held by kicker Adam Vinatieri, whose Colts are at Washington.

Jacksonville could be short-handed in a key area: running back Leonard Fournette has hamstring issues, and the Jags need a strong running game to keep Brady on the sideline.

T.J. Yeldon would get the start if Fournette can't go.

"He has always been good," coach Doug Marrone says of Yeldon. "I think he is more explosive. He's stronger. He's elusive. I think he can carry a load of carries."

New York Giants (0-1) at Dallas (0-1)

Easy to understand why the NFL keeps scheduling this matchup in prime time and why the broadcasting network loves it: big audiences. This year's faceoff doesn't have all that much charm considering both teams stumbled, particularly with the ball, in losing openers.

Of prime interest will be the running backs, second overall pick Saquon Barkley, who excited Giants fans with his 68-yard TD burst in his debut, and Dallas star Zeke Elliott.

Miami (1-0) at New York Jets (1-0)

Barring a tie — and we all know those never happen in the NFL, right? — one of these teams will be a surprising 2-0 Sunday night.

The Dolphins come off the longest NFL game since the 1970 merger, outlasting Tennessee in 7 hours, 8 minutes, including 3:59 in multiple weather delays. RB Frank Gore has 14,087 career yards rushing and needs 15 to surpass the Jets' greatest runner, Curtis Martin (14,101), for fourth place on the NFL's list.

Sam Darnold threw a pick-6 on his first pro attempt, then reversed things with aplomb at Detroit. The Jets' defense deserves the highest accolades for making Matthew Stafford look like an inept rookie, something Darnold didn't resemble beyond that opening pass.

Kansas City (1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-0-1)

As ugly as the Steelers' performance was in the rain in Cleveland, that's how pretty Chiefs fan think their team's work was in Los Angeles.

But this is a nightmare matchup for KC: The Steelers have won seven of the last eight vs. the Chiefs, who are 0-6 in Pittsburgh since 1986. Plus, the Steelers are 15-2 in home openers at Heinz Field.

Two of the NFL's most dynamic wideouts go at it here: All-Pro Antonio Brown for Pittsburgh, WR-KR Tyreek Hill for Kansas City. Don't take your eyes off the field.

Minnesota (1-0) at Green Bay (1-0)

Right up until kickoff, the fans at Lambeau Field will be holding their breath to see if Aaron Rodgers can go. Green Bay is in massive trouble if he can't, as last week's heroic performance by A-Rod in the comeback victory over Chicago showed.

"Yeah, well, you know he walks on water, so I'm sure he's going to play," Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said.

The Vikings aren't the Bears and won't likely be playing passively if they get a lead. Not with that dynamic defense that handed Jimmy Garoppolo his first pro defeat in the opener.

Carolina (1-0) at Atlanta (0-1)

Not only did the Falcons falter in Philly in their opener, they had two significant long-term injuries with safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones. The defense kept them in the Eagles game while Matt Ryan struggled. Sure, he completed 10 passes for 169 yards to Julio Jones, but Ryan generally was off the mark.

Carolina has its own injury woes, losing star TE Greg Olsen with a foot problem. Its defense was super stingy against Dallas, with LB Luke Kuechly in on 13 tackles.

Cleveland (0-0-1) at New Orleans (0-1)

Oh yeah, they do have ties, which for the Browns is a monumental achievement considering they lost all 16 games in 2017 and were 1-15 the previous year. Oddly, the Browns overwhelmingly lead this series 13-4, winning five of the last six meetings.

WR Michael Thomas had a Saints single-game record 16 catches last week for 180 yards and a score. Drew Brees will target him often, sometimes against rookie Denzel Ward, who had two picks of Ben Roethlisberger in the opener.

Oakland (0-1) at Denver (1-0)

The glow from the return of Jon Gruden as coach will fade into the Mile High air if the Raiders put forth another mediocre showing in this bitter rivalry. Oakland struggled in the second half in falling to the Rams, with only TE Jared Cook a consistent positive with nine catches for a career-best 180 yards. The defense clearly missed Khalil Mack.

Von Miller was a terror against Seattle: Miller had three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He's one of three active players (Robert Quinn, Terrell Suggs) with two career games with at least three sacks and two forced fumbles.

In all, Jon Gruden's teams are 1-9 against the Broncos, with the one win coming in Oakland in 2001.

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