AFC Championship Preview: Patriots v.s. Jaguars
If somebody told you a year ago today, that the Patriots would be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship, how hard would you have laughed? I don’t think anybody would have believed it, but it is for real. I’ll take one second to commend the Jaguars on this incredible turnaround season they have had, after the past 5 have been abysmal. Now that’s enough praise for them, on to what the Patriots will do to win.
It will be, interesting to say the least when the Jaguars offense is on the field. Everyone knows, take away Fournette, take away the offense. I think that there is one other big threat that needs to be contained, however. Blake Bortles. And no not Blake Bortles as a passer, Blake Bortles as a runner. He has just let loose in the playoffs, running and scrambling, and has had very much success doing it. Spying him with someone fast and athletic like Marquise Flowers or Kyle Van Noy could be helpful. It will also be key for James Harrison to contain the edge like he does so well. I don’t expect another 8 sacks, but if they take away the running game, these are receivers that Butler and Gilmore should easily be able to handle. They should bring a big rush and get at least 3-4 sacks this game, as well as forcing Bortles to make some mistakes that guys like McCourty and Harmon should capitalize on. They need to look out for those unsung heroes on this offense as well, tight ends, fullbacks, fake punts and field goals. Something or someone unexpected will score for the Jags almost every game this year, so don’t take anyone lightly.
And now the fun aspect of this game, when the Patriots have the ball. This looks like it might be an absolute stalemate. So many weapons on the Patriots offense, and what seems like no holes on Jacksonville’s defense. There’s a reason they call them Sacksonville, and they can sure pressure the QB. All the way across the line they have people to worry about, and the Patriots offensive line has been just about average this year. In my opinion, that is where the game is won and lost. It will be interesting to see what matchups they go with in the secondary. There is no linebacker that can cover Gronk, so will they go with a linebacker? A safety? Jalen Ramsey? The key weapons will be Gronk, and the running backs, as they have been almost all season. These top two cornerbacks have been lockdown all year though. Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are great man coverage corners, but are also not afraid to come up in run support. The Patriots need to win in the middle of the field all game long. That is where their most favorable matchups are. Brady always finds the weak point and just picks it apart, so lets plan on seeing that happen.
I am not worried about his hand. If is was serious enough, the Pats would have kept it as much of a secret as they possibly could have. He’s played through worse, and he is not going to miss a game of this multitude because his hand hurts, and he certainly won’t let it affect his play. He phases those things out. It will be a little close for comfort this week, but that defense is too good to just rip apart. 23-20 Pats.
Written By: Jake Kobierski (@TheRealKobe83)