AROUND THE AFC
*Put a bow on the AFC East Sunday around 4:30 p.m. New England will avenge its early-season loss to Buffalo by winning in Orchard Park. It would give the Patriots (7-1) a three-game lead in the division. Tom Brady is 12-4 all-time against teams coached by Rex Ryan, totaling 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Despite playing only three games, Brady is the NFL MVP favorite per Bovada (odds of 3-2).
* The Patriots, who have started three quarterbacks, are the only team in the league to not throw an interception this year (216 attempts).
* One of the trends we chart are any points scored on defense and special teams and any offensive touchdown of at least 40 yards. Four teams have pulled the hat trick this year — Buffalo in Week 2, Los Angeles in Week 3, Atlanta in Week 5 and Cincinnati last week. The Bengals had offensive touchdowns of 46, 48 and 74 yards in a win over Cleveland. The Bengals play a “home” game Sunday against Washington in London.
* Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, bound for the Pro Football Hall of Fame upon his retirement, has made a record 43 consecutive field goals. Vinatieri is in his 21st NFL year — a decade with New England and 11 years with Indianapolis. In 24 career games against the Jaguars, Vinatieri has made 57 of 58 extra-points and 43 of 48 field goals.
* How bad is Houston offensively during its 4-3 start? The Texans enter Week 8 ranked below the Jaguars in yards, passing yards and points per game. Bill O’Brien pledged his support to quarterback Brock Osweiler, but, really, what choice does he have? They’re connected at the figurative hip.
* This set of eyebrows was raised when Tennessee tabbed veteran coach Terry Robiskie to be offensive coordinator. Robiskie hadn’t served in that role for 12 years. But he had a great plan against the Jaguars Thursday. Quarterback Marcus Mariota showed great command of the offense.
AROUND THE NFC
* Book this prediction: The NFC North will secure one of the wild card spots because they get to play the AFC South. Against that lowly division, Minnesota is 2-0, Green Bay 1-0, Detroit 1-1 and Chicago 0-3. The Vikings have Indianapolis and the Jaguars left, the Packers have Tennessee, Houston and Indianapolis remaining, the Lions have Houston and the Jaguars left. The schedule should allow for two teams to reach double-digit wins. (Plus, Minnesota still has two games left with Chicago.)
* Big-time NFC East match-up Sunday night — Philadelphia (4-2) at Dallas (5-1). Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott probably needed the bye week. In the last four games, Elliott has posted games of 30 rushes-140 yards (Bears), 23-138-1 (49ers) and 15-134-2 (Bengals) and 28-157-0 (Packers), the first rookie in league history to eclipse 130 yards in four straight games. Have to hat-tip owner Jerry Jones and his football cabinet — we thought the Cowboys were wacko to take a tailback No. 4 overall.
* Not to be outdone, Arizona tailback David Johnson goes for four straight 100-yard games when the Cardinals play at Carolina. Johnson has 157, 111 and 113 yards the last three weeks. As for the Panthers’ defense, they better hope the bye week helped them find some answers defensively. Carolina is 1-5, giving this NFC championship game rematch little sizzle.
* The best part about the Giants being off this week: Owner John Mara can’t make a foot-in-mouth comment about former kicker Josh Brown and, well, anything else.
* Expect Arizona-Carolina and Minnesota-Chicago to avoid the three-and-a-half-hour disaster that was Oakland-Jaguars last week. Walt Coleman (Cardinals-Panthers) and Gene Steratore (Vikings-Bears) are the only two referees this year whose crews haven’t authored a double-digit penalty game on a team.
* Giants defensive backs Landon Collins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie each had two interceptions in last week’s win over Los Angeles. Per research assist by Jaguars media relations assistant Gaby Moran, the last time that happened was by Seattle in 2013 (Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell had two apiece).
Under coach Gus Bradley, the Jaguars have allowed four 200-yard rushing games:
Yards Game Date Comment
226 at Oakland Week 2, 2013 RB Darren McFadden (129) and QB Terrelle Pryor (50) led the way.
221 San Francisco Week 8, 2013 Three 49ers had at least 54 yards, led by Kendall Hunter’s 84.
214 at Tennessee Week 8, 2016 DeMarco Murray (123) and Derrick Henry (60) each scored one TD
210 at Tennessee Week 13, 2015 Marcus Mariota gained 87 of his 112 yards on a touchdown run.