Patriots Gameday: Jaguars have ingredients to upset New England


The New England Patriots might be about to face their toughest challenge of the year in the AFC Championship game.

In a past article, I had said that the New England Patriots should want to avoid a match-up with the Jacksonville Jaguars at all costs. If that meant facing Pittsburgh, then so be it. If they were facing the Steelers, New England would have a better chance.

Before I continue, I don’t want you all to think that I am rooting for Jacksonville. I’m not. I’m all for the Pats getting the win, but I just think that the Jags could do the unthinkable. Since New England is considered a favorite to win this game by many, Calais Campbell and company have little to no pressure to win. In fact, all they have is motivation. As long as they capitalize on their established momentum from Buffalo and Pittsburgh, the Jaguars have a legitimate shot to represent the AFC in this year’s Super Bowl.

Statistically speaking…

Both of these teams have amazing stats. Let’s start on the offensive side of the ball. The New England Patriots are second in the league in points scored per game (28.6). They are first in the league in total yards per game (394.2). That’s enough on its own to prove that New England is a force on the offensive side of the ball. I haven’t even mentioned that Tom Brady had amazing stats this year (then again, did I even have to?)

On the flip side, Jacksonville has been dubbed by many the best defense in the NFL this year. Personnel wise, there are no holes on this team. There is a star player at every position of this defense.

As far as statistics, Jacksonville ranks second in points allowed per game (16.8) and yards allowed per game (286.1). This defense is very well rounded, and for the most part Jacksonville has been the best in the league at disrupting passers and frustrating receivers. They have been given the nickname “Sacksonville” for a reason, you know.

Defensively, New England has been an inconsistent blur. While they are fifth in points allowed per game (18.5), they have allowed the fourth most yards per game (366). This may cost them, as Jacksonville’s offense is actually very overlooked.

On the flipside of the Patriots’ defense, Jacksonville has scored the fifth most points per game in the league (26.1). They are also sixth in the league in total yards per game (365.9). While this offense is not as prolific as New England’s, it will be enough to give the opposing defense some trouble.

The key factors of the game

There are three things that I think of when I see these two teams that will be complete game changers. The first one: how well will Leonard Fournette be able to run? The Jaguars have averaged the most rushing yards per game (141.4). The LSU alum is a big part of that. He can take off for 90 yards down the middle of the field out of nowhere. Fournette has a quick burst and can also truck through anybody. He’s a hard nosed runner with a knack for beating open field tacklers. If New England can’t bottle him up, then it might lead to their ultimate demise.

The second factor I think of is just how much will Jacksonville’s pass rush bother Tommy Terrific? Jacksonville has the second most sacks this season (55), and that must play a part this game. If New England can give the 5 time Super Bowl Champion enough time to make a read, then it is game over. However, if Jacksonville can successfully pressure him and force 4 or more sacks, then they might just win the game.

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The other side to this factor is just how well can the Jaguars secondary cover Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, or any of the receiving backs that the Pats possess? Personally, I believe that Cooks might just beat out Bouye, Ramsey, or whoever Doug Marrone puts on him. If Jacksonville can find a way to jam him at the line, however, then Brady might have trouble finding an open man.

The X Factor

Now, some of you might be wondering why I haven’t said a word about Rob Gronkowski yet. Well, that’s because he is the make or break factor of this game. Many of the top defenses in league history have yet to find an answer for the big guy. He is frankly one of the most unstoppable players the league has ever seen. The biggest question in this game has to be just who will be able to contain Gronk? The answer is probably no one.

Now, I would assume that coach Doug Marrone would dedicate a safety to the 1,000 yard receiving Tight End, but I have also seen multiple posts from people saying that Jalen Ramsey might be matching up against him for the game. If the latter is the case, then the Jaguars might be giving up a ton of yardage and 2 or 3 scores. if the former is what happens, then things might be a little better for them. My opinion is if Gronk scores 2 or more times, then the Patriots will win.

Next: New England Patriots: 5 Jaguars to fear in AFC Championship matchup

With all of the points mentioned here, I predict the Jacksonville Jaguars winning over the New England Patriots, 24-21.