Brady against Jaguars is one-sided con­fronta­tion

Texarkana Gazette - - SPORTS - By Barry Wilner

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.

Ever. 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 three­time 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.”

The week­end be­gan with Cincin­nati’s 34-23 home vic­tory over Bal­ti­more. Andy Dal­ton threw four touch­down passes in the first half—three to A.J. Green—to help the Ben­gals im­prove to 2-0. The Ravens are 1-1.


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 quar­ter­back again with Car­son Wentz still not ready, though Philly’s run­ning game with Jay Ajayi, who had two touch­downs last week, 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, four TDs, and had no in­ter­cep­tions against the Saints. He also scored a rush­ing TD.

FitzMagic in­deed.


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.


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.


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.

MI­AMI (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 pick6 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.


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.

ARI­ZONA (0-1) AT L.A. RAMS (1-0)

All seven of the new head coaches lost last week, none more dis­tress­ingly than Ari­zona’s Steve Wilks at home against Wash­ing­ton. QB Sam Bradford, the top over­all draft choice by the Rams in 2010, now is the Car­di­nals’ starter, and he has an all­time great re­ceiver in Larry Fitzger­ald. Yet Ari­zona was out­classed in its first game for Wilks.

No such prob­lems for the Rams, who looked strong in all phases at Oak­land. A worry, though, is los­ing Al­lPro kick re­turner Pharoh Cooper to an an­kle in­jury.

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.


The last time Frank Re­ich coached in a game that counted, he helped Philly win a Su­per Bowl. His Colts blew a big lead at home to Cincin­nati, but at least Andrew Luck is back be­hind cen­ter. And Luck likes the look of Red­skins bur­gundy: He threw for 370 yards, five TDs and one in­ter­cep­tion in his only pre­vi­ous game vs. Wash­ing­ton.

RB Adrian Peter­son moved into 10th place all-time in rush­ing yards af­ter gain­ing 96 last week at Ari­zona. Wash­ing­ton’s de­fense was stout and ranks sec­ond over­all.


Af­ter their long, weather-re­lated wait to even­tu­ally lose in Mi­ami, and a right el­bow in­jury to Marcus Mar­i­ota, the Ti­tans could use a boost in a key early season AFC South game. Mar­i­ota should play for new coach Mike Vra­bel, who was an as­sis­tant in Hous­ton the last four years un­der Bill O’Brien.

The Tex­ans have won nine of the last 12 against Ten­nessee, and O’Brien is 6-2 against the Ti­tans. Hous­ton lost at New Eng­land last week, but kept things close.

L.A. CHARG­ERS (0-1) AT BUF­FALO (0-1)

So, first-round pick Josh Allen will start and hope to avoid an­other de­ba­cle af­ter the 47-3 de­feat at Bal­ti­more. Allen will have a long leash. Re­mem­ber, Buf­falo’s other QB, Nathan Peter­man, threw five first-half in­ter­cep­tions in his start against the Charg­ers last year. He was just about as bad against the Ravens.

The Charg­ers have won three straight and 17 of the past 22 meet­ings. They outscored the Bills by 113-44 in those three vic­to­ries.



It’s im­pos­si­ble to fathom Stafford be­ing as aw­ful again. He threw four picks, one re­turned for a touch­down by the Jets. His passes were off the mark most of the game.

Now that 49ers QB Garop­polo has lost a game, maybe the ex­pec­ta­tions in the Bay Area can be tamped down a bit. Keep a watch out for DL DeFor­est Buck­ner (2 1/2 sacks at Min­nesota) and LB Fred Warner, who led all rook­ies with 12 tack­les last week and forced a fum­ble.


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.



So the two night games in the sec­ond week of the sched­ule feature a com­bined record of 0-4. YAWN!

Both teams lost close ones on the road, with the Bears in­fa­mously blow­ing 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.

As­so­ci­ated Press

■ New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady throws a pass against the Hous­ton Tex­ans on Sept. 9 at Gil­lette Sta­dium in Foxbor­ough.

As­so­ci­ated Press

■ Dal­las Cow­boys’ Dak Prescott throws a pass Sept. 9 against the Carolina Pan­thers in Char­lotte, N.C.

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