Know The Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

The New England Patriots hung on for a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans in week one and this week, they look to go 2-0.  This week, they’ll have to beat the very team that they beat to advance to Super Bowl 52.  The Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jags are 1-0 on the year as they beat the New York Giants 20-15.  Blake Bortles went 18/33 for 176 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.  TJ Yeldon had 14 carries for 51 yards and Bortles rushed for 42.  They held the Giants offense to practically nothing too.  Their star running back and first pick Saquon Barkley ultimately did have 106 yards rushing but 68 of those yards came on on TD run.

So if it wasn’t for one busted play by the Jags D, they probably would’ve held him to under 40 yards.  We all knew from last season that this defense for “Sacksonville” was legit.  But this offense?  Average at best.  Especially now that Marquis Lee is out for the season and Leonard Fournette will be out for some time too.  With those two out, I can’t see why New England shouldn’t be able to stop this offense with some consistency.

What to Watch For

I’m sure many of us have now heard the “diss track” Jalen Ramsey dropped on the AFC and some of its players.  One of those players he believes is overrated is Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.  Ramsey is easily one of the top five corners in the league.  Additionally, the defensive line for the Jaguars was able to pretty much have their way with the Giants offensive line.  However; the Giants offense is slightly different than New England’s.  Look for adjustments to the Jags line to prepare for the quick offense of New England.  Furthermore, Jacksonville’s linebacker’s also had a rather good game vs. the Giants making sure for the most part Barkley didn’t break free consistently.  Myles Jack even had an interception in the win adding 7 tackles as well.  Look for Jack and Telvin Smith to be quite active in this game and don’t be surprised if you hear their names a lot.  They’ll have a tough matchup with the running backs of the Patriots so they’ll have to be on their toes at all times.

Offensively for the Jaguars, with no Marquis Lee and most likely no Leonard Fournette, we’ll have to see what Blake Bortles is truly made of.  TJ Yeldon isn’t a running back you want to sleep on either.  A fast, powerful runner who can catch coming out of the backfield is a nightmare for any defense, especially a defense like New England’s where the linebackers are kind of a question.  So with no Marquis Lee, who do the Jaguars have to throw to?  Look for plenty of passes to Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, and tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins.  Yeah, the guy who fumbled out of the endzone when he was with the Jets?  Look for him to have some extra motivation here.

Jacksonville Wins If…

This game will take place at TIAA Bank field in Jacksonville so the Jags will have the edge when it comes to noise.  But, last year when they hosted two eventual playoff teams (Rams and Titans) they suffered a double digit loss both times.  So Jacksonville needs to take advantage of being at home.  Additionally, if they have the lead, keep playing.  We saw (especially in SB 51) if you have a lead on this team, it means nothing.  Same thing in last year’s AFC Championship game, Tom Brady in the 4th quarter is magic.  Also, New England is depleted right now.  No Julian Edelman or Jeremy Hill.  They’ll have to rely on Gronkowski (which Ramsey will certainly help) and Chris Hogan?  Phillip Dorsett?  James Develin?  Expect a low scoring game and in those games, defenses will win and right now Jacksonville’s defense has the slight edge.


Brian Berard (@CouchGuyBrian)

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