WEEK 2 MATCHUPS
NEW ENGLAND (1-0) AT JACKSONVILLE (1-0)
If a change of the guard in the AFC is imminent, today’s visit by the Patriots and QB Tom Brady to Jacksonville would seem an appropriate time — until a check of the numbers reveals Brady doesn’t lose to the Jaguars. Ever. Jacksonville had a 10-point lead at New England in the second half of the AFC championship game in January when Brady worked his magic, helped mightily by Jacksonville’s discomfort being so close to making the Super Bowl. It shouldn’t have been a surprise: Brady now is 8-0 against the Jaguars, the only AFC team without a win against the five-time Super Bowl champion and three-time league MVP. He has 19 touchdowns and two interceptions against them while completing more than 70 percent of his passes for more than 1,800 yards. Jacksonville could be short-handed in a key area: RB Leonard Fournette was working to recover from a strained right hamstring, and the Jaguars need a strong running game to keep Brady on the sideline.
PHILADELPHIA (1-0) AT TAMPA BAY (1-0)
One reason the Eagles had the NFC’s best record in 2017 was a 6-2 road mark. They were sloppy yet victorious in their opener at home against Atlanta and haven’t played since Sept. 6. Nick Foles gets the call at QB again with Carson Wentz still not ready, though the Eagles’ running game and strong defense could decide things. The Buccaneers come off an impressive upset win at New Orleans in which Ryan Fitzpatrick showed why he has been a quality fill-in passer for years. He threw for a career-best 417 yards and four TDs with no interceptions and ran for another score.
KANSAS CITY (1-0) AT PITTSBURGH (0-0-1)
This is a nightmare matchup for Kansas City. The Steelers have won seven of their past eight games against the Chiefs, who are 0-6 in Pittsburgh since 1986. Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown and Kansas City counterpart Tyreek Hill — who also returns kicks — are two of the league’s best, so watch them for big plays.
MINNESOTA (1-0) AT GREEN BAY (1-0)
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers (sprained knee) will be a game-time decision. The Packers are in massive trouble if he can’t, as last week’s heroic performance by Rodgers in a comeback victory over Chicago showed. The Vikings aren’t the Bears and likely won’t be playing passively if they get a lead.
MIAMI (1-0) AT N.Y. JETS (1-0)
It’s a surprise to see both of these teams with a chance to be 2-0. The Dolphins are coming off the league’s longest game since the 1970 AFLNFL merger, outlasting the Tennessee Titans in 7 hours, 8 minutes, including 3:59 in multiple weather delays. Jets QB Sam Darnold’s first pro pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, but he reversed things with aplomb in a rout of the Detroit Lions. His defensive teammates deserve the highest accolades for making QB Matthew Stafford look like an inept rookie.
DETROIT (0-1) AT SAN FRANCISCO (0-1)
It’s impossible to fathom Stafford being as awful again as he was against the Jets, when he threw four interceptions and had one returned for a TD. Keep a watch out for 49ers DL DeForest Buckner, who had 2.5 sacks against Minnesota in the opener, and LB Fred Warner, who forced a fumble and made 12 tackles to lead all rookies last week.
CLEVELAND (0-0-1) AT NEW ORLEANS (0-1)
Cleveland opening by tying rival Pittsburgh is a monumental achievement considering the Browns were 1-31 over the past two seasons. They lead this series 13-4 and have won five of the past six meetings. Saints WR Michael Thomas had a franchise single-game record 16 catches last week for 180 yards and a score, so QB Drew Brees will target him often.
ARIZONA (0-1) AT L.A. RAMS (1-0)
Sam Bradford, the top overall draft choice by the Rams in 2010, is now the Cardinals’ starting QB and has an all-time great to throw to in Larry Fitzgerald, yet his team was outdone in coach Steve Wilks’ debut. There were no such problems for the Rams, who looked strong in all phases while ruining Jon Gruden’s return as coach of the Oakland Raiders on Monday night.
OAKLAND (0-1) AT DENVER (1-0)
Oakland struggled in the second half against the Rams, with TE Jared Cook, who finished with nine catches for a career-best 180 yards, the only consistent positive. The Raiders’ defense clearly missed Khalil Mack. Denver OLB Von Miller was a terror last week in a 27-24 win against the Seattle Seahawks — he had three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
INDIANAPOLIS (0-1) AT WASHINGTON (1-0)
Colts QB Andrew Luck likes the look of Washington Redskins burgundy: He threw for 370 yards, five TDs and one interception in his only previous game against them. Worth noting is that Washington’s current defense was stout in a 24-6 rout of the Cardinals last week and ranks second overall.
L.A. CHARGERS (0-1) AT BUFFALO (0-1)
First-round pick Josh Allen will start at QB for Buffalo, which hopes to avoid another debacle after its 47-3 defeat at Baltimore. He’ll have plenty of leeway with the other option Nathan Peterman, who threw five first-half interceptions in his start against the Chargers last year and was just about as bad against the Ravens. The Chargers have won three straight in this series by a combined score of 113-44.
N.Y. GIANTS (0-1) AT DALLAS (0-1)
Of prime interest in this prime-time matchup are each team’s top RB — second overall pick Saquon Barkley, who excited Giants fans with his 68-yard TD burst in his pro debut, and third-year Dallas star Zeke Elliott.
SEATTLE (0-1) AT CHICAGO (0-1)
Both teams lost close ones on the road to open, though the Bears blew a 20-point lead at Green Bay to a hobbled Rodgers. Seattle gave up 475 yards at Denver, and the usually slippery Russell Wilson was sacked six times.