Patriots Playoffs: Surprise, surprise, the Jaguars are coming

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

Surprise Patriots fans! The Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon to punch their ticket to the AFC Championship Game.

The New England Patriots will host the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday afternoon for the AFC Championship Game. That’s not something any football fan would have expected when the season began.

Jacksonville, the #3 seed in the AFC, shocked the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional Round with a 45-42 win. They got off to a great start and built a 21-0 lead, but the Steelers came back and were within a score at 28-21 early in the second half.

The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair, as Leonard Fournette’s third touchdown of the day put the Jaguars up 35-21. The Steelers responded though with a 43-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown. Again, this was back and forth and Jacksonville found a way to score another one. One a beautiful play action pass Blake Bortles found fullback Tommy Bohanon wide open in the end zone.

The Steelers got the ball back and drove 75-yards for a score on an 8-yard Le’Veon Bell run. They elected to attempt an onside kick, but it was terribly executed. Illegal touching pushed the ball up for Jacksonville and they added a field goal to go up by 10-points. Pittsburgh got the ball back with a little under 2-minutes to play and added a meaningless touchdown. The game went final with a score of 45-42.

Jaguars stats

  • QB Blake Bortles: 14 of 26, 214 yards, 1 touchdown
  • RB Leonard Fournette: 25 carries, 109 yards, 3 touchdowns
  • RB T.J. Yeldon: 5 carries, 20 yards, 1 touchdown
  • WR Keelan Cole: 1 reception, 45 yards
  • WR Marqise Lee: 3 receptions, 28 yards
  • WR Allen Hurns: 1 reception, 12 yards
  • TE Ben Koyack: 1 reception, 21 yards
  • TE James O’Shaughnessy: 1 reception, 19 yards

Jacksonville still looked beatable

As surprisingly good as Jacksonville’s offense looked, their defense looked very beatable. Allowing 42 points is not very much like them, and it should give the Patriots a great feeling as they get ready to prepare for this team.

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The pressure got to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger a bit, and that will be a top concern for New England. They’ll want to keep Tom Brady upright and comfortable against the Jaguars like they did against the Titans. Tennessee didn’t sack Brady at all on Saturday night. The Jaguars have much better pass rushers though. They only tallied 2 sacks on Sunday, but one was a strip sack that was run back for a score. Dante Scarnecchia, Josh McDaniels, and Bill Belichick will have their work cut out for them as they gameplan for this Jacksonville front. Again though, they looked incredibly beatable.

Before today, I would have been at least a little worried for the Patriots offense to have to face this Jags defense, but my concerns are not as large anymore. If Ben Roethlisberger can toss 5 touchdowns and the Steelers can hang 42 on them, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and others will be able to put up some numbers. Screen passes to running backs may not be in the best game plan, but there are so many other options for this Patriots offense. Tom Brady will likely look to get Chris Hogan and Danny “Playoff” Amendola involved early to open up the deep ball to Brandin Cooks. This is going to be fun.

Also, this just makes the fact that Le’Veon Bell was looking forward to the AFC Championship Game even better.

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The AFC Championship Game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots will kick off next Sunday, January 21st at 3:05 PM on CBS. Of course, CBS’ top team of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo will have the call. Here on Chowder and Champions, we will have coverage all week long as the Patriots prepare for their 7th straight AFC title game, so check back often! You can also follow us on Twitter @CandCFansided.