Patriots Playoffs: Is the Jaguars defense really so great? Maybe Not

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Marcell Dareus
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Marcell Dareus /

The Jacksonville Jaguars defense is touted as the best in the league, but are they actually that great? The Patriots may find they really aren’t.

Yes, the Jaguars have great statistics, but when you actually look deeper that defense may not be as great as advertised. The Patriots will have a chance to put up some points.

In the regular season and the playoffs, the Jaguars held opponents to 17-points or less 11 times. That sounds amazing until you start to look at some of their opponents and the offenses they faced in those games. I admit some of the performances were amazing and in the NFL, no matter the team, it’s tough to slow down the offense. But, the Jaguars looked like an entirely different team when they had to face competent offenses and quarterbacks. First, let’s look at the games in which Jacksonville allowed 17 or fewer points.

17 points or fewer

  • Week 1: Houston Texans, 7 points
  • Week 3: Baltimore Ravens, 7 points
  • Week 5: Pittsburgh Steelers, 9 points
  • Week 7: Indianapolis Colts, 0 points
  • Week 9: Cincinnati Bengals, 7 points
  • Week 10: Los Angeles Chargers, 17 points
  • Week 11: Cleveland Browns, 7 points
  • Week 13: Indianapolis Colts, 10 points
  • Week 15: Houston Texans, 7 points
  • Week 17: Tennessee Titans, 15 points
  • Wild Card: Buffalo Bills, 3 points

Average Points Allowed: 8.09 points per game

8.09 points allowed per game is spectacular, and more often than not, the Jaguars were able to hold their opponent to 17 points or fewer. 11 times in 18 games so far, is pretty remarkable. Still, there were times when they were not this strong, like in the 7 other games played where the opponent managed to score more than 17 points on offense.

So, what about the rest of their games? Let’s take a look.

18 points or more

  • Week 2: Tennessee Titans, 37 points
  • Week 4: New York Jets, 23 points
  • Week 6: Los Angeles Rams, 20 points
  • Week 12: Arizona Cardinals, 27 points
  • Week 14: Seattle Seahawks, 24 points
  • Week 16: San Francisco 49ers, 38 points
  • Divisional: Pittsburgh Steelers, 42 points

Average Points Allowed: 30.14 points per game

So, when the Jaguars defense is off their game, the average is about 30 points allowed per game. That’s a lot of points and it really forces you to think “are they that good?” The Jaguars gave up 23 points to the Josh McCown led Jets? 27 points allowed against Blaine Gabbert and the Cardinals? That does not scream elite defense at all.

Now, I realize that there are some competent QBs in the list of under 17-point games, and some not-so-elite QBs in the over 17-point games. If we break it down by QB, let’s look at how the numbers stack up.

Competent QBs

  • Week 2: Marcus Mariota, 37 points
  • Week 3: Joe Flacco, 7 points
  • Week 5: Ben Roethlisberger, 9 points
  • Week 6: Jared Goff, 20 points
  • Week 9: Andy Dalton, 7 points
  • Week 10: Phillip Rivers, 17 points
  • Week 14: Russell Wilson, 24 points
  • Week 16: Jimmy Garoppolo, 38 points
  • Week 17: Marcus Mariota, 15 points
  • Divisional: Ben Roethlisberger, 42 points

Average Points Allowed:  21.6 points per game

When you look at games against “competent” QBs, the Jaguars defense looks solid, but the numbers are nothing special. 21.6 points allowed per game is around the league average, and it proves that a team with a good offense can take advantage of and score against this Jacksonville D. The Patriots should easily be able to put up points on Sunday, and like the Steelers last week or Jimmy Garoppolo in week 16, they may even get over 30 points. Brady won’t have a game like Ben Roethlisberger did in week 5.

The Not-so-great QBs

  • Week 1: Tom Savage/DeShaun Watson, 7 points
  • Week 4: Josh McCown, 23 points
  • Week 7: Jacoby Brissett, 0 points
  • Week 11: DeShone Kizer, 7 points
  • Week 12: Blaine Gabbert, 27 points
  • Week 13: Jacoby Brissett, 10 points
  • Week 15: T.J. Yates, 7 points
  • Wild Card: Tyrod Taylor, 3 points

Average Points Allowed: 10.5 points per game

More from New England Patriots

Hmm, against terrible quarterbacks the Jaguars defense suddenly does look elite! Of course, they do, and they should. But, you can see just how much these few games against lower level QBs helped the Jaguars overall numbers this season. They played against the Texans twice, led by Tom Savage and T.J. Yates primarily, and they got to face Jacoby Brissett’s Colts twice as well. It’s no surprise that they looked elite in those games. Also, getting to face the Browns and Bills is pretty advantageous for defensive numbers. The shocker here is that the Jags gave up 23 points to the Jets and Josh McCown.

Clearly, the Jacksonville Jaguars defense is not as elite as the casual fan believes. When you really dig into the numbers, the Patriots and Tom Brady should be able to put up 24+ points and they may even get to 30. If that happens, it should be an easy win as New England’s defense can handle Blake Bortles. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the Jags defense and the young talent that they have, but I just don’t think they’re actually as good as the numbers initially suggest. They will give up points to teams that have a good quarterback that makes smart decisions, we saw it last weekend. Just Imagine what the Patriots offense can do in the AFC Championship Game to silence the haters!

Next: How Bademosi can impact the AFC title game

The AFC Championship Game will kick off on CBS at 3:05 PM on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The winner will face the winner of the Vikings and Eagles game that will be played immediately following. Those two teams will meet in Minnesota for Super Bowl LII two weeks from now, and I have a really good feeling that New England will be there.