By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots always speak highly of their opponent every single week, but with a trip to Jacksonville on tap for this weekend, the team is elevating that praise to the highest level.

That’s not without merit, of course. Last year, the Jaguars ranked second in yards and points allowed, second in interceptions and sacks, and first in the NFL in opponents’ passer rating. It’s much too early in the season this year to get into the rankings, but with pretty much the same crew, it’s fair to assume the Jaguars’ defense is just as potent.

And coming off a Week 1 win in which he threw three touchdowns, Tom Brady said Wednesday that the Patriots are well aware of the steep challenge they’ll face on Sunday afternoon in Jacksonville.

“It’s pretty tough,” Brady said. “They were a great team last year. Gave us everything that we could handle in the championship game. They’re at it again this year. They got the same players, similar scheme. They’re as good as any defense we’ll face all year.

“They’ve got an incredible rush, great linebackers, great secondary,” Brady added. “It’s going to be very challenging, tough environment.”

Interestingly, while the Patriots are often used by opponents as a measuring stick, Brady said the Jaguars’ defense provides a proper point of reference for the Patriots as an offense to know where they stand early in the season.

“It’s going to be an emotional environment. I think everyone, whenever you play some of the best teams, you want to see where you’re measured up to,” Brady said. “And that defense has been ranked very high all last year, and I can see why. We practiced against them [in the summer of 2017], they were very good, they’ve got a lot of very talented players, some of the guys that were probably the best at their position.”

The 41-year-old Brady has of course played in countless big games, but there was a tinge of excitement to his voice when noting that this week’s game will be seen by a large portion of the country.

“Gonna be a great environment for football. A 4:30 game, so everyone’s going to be watching,” Brady said. “It should be a really great game to go out and see what we’re made of.”

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