Jaguars at Patriots AFC Championship Prediction
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (NE -9)
I am not surprised that we are down to these 2 teams. Its going to be a classic match up between Tom Brady and this Jags defense. As far as the numbers and the "eye test" the Jaguars are the best defense in the league. unfortunately their opponent has the number 1 offense in the league in the Patriots.
This game will be in New England, so the Patriots will have the edge there. Now as far as the match up between the Jags defense and the Pats offense, I believe the Pats will have the slight edge. I know Tom Brady and the Pats can struggle against great defenses. But so can anybody else. The difference is, they have the greatest QB of all time and one of the best coaches all time in Bill Belichick. They will find a way to draw up different schemes to combat the Jags great defense. Something to mention is that before the season, these 2 teams practiced together for about a week so both teams no each others personnel pretty well and have an idea of 1 on 1 match ups. I would give the edge to Belichick on analyzing and exploiting those match ups better than the Jaguars. The Jags have a tremendous pass defense but their rush defense is not the greatest. According to footballoutsiders.com the Jaguars rush defense ranks 26th. The Patriots should have no problem running the ball this Sunday as they rank 3rd in rushing.
Now the suspect part of the Patriots team is their defense. They started out the year as the worst defense in the league and at the end they rank 31st according to footballoutsiders. So Blake Bortles and this offense can be successful on Sunday. The Jags offense put up 38 points on the road against the Steelers last week and their rushing attack is the best in comparison to the rest of the teams left in the playoffs. Bortles is playing the best football in his career and last game he finished with a QBR of 90 and went 5 for 5 in the redzone. This time around will be harder. Yes the Patriots defense is much worse than the one he faced last week. but in the redzone, the Patriots are the number 1 defense in the league. Blake Bortles needs to play as well as he did last week to be successful in the redzone and RB Leonard Fournette needs to crank it up a notch and really show out. He is coming off an ankle injury so that does concern me.
When the Vegas line came out I was a little surprised that the Patriots were favored by so much. The 9 point spread is like a good team facing a bad team. But these Jags are legit and I believe Vegas is giving Tom Brady and the Pats to much credit. Sure they have the best offense in the league but defensively they are terrible outside of the redzone. Its hard to go against Tom Brady and Belichick. Especially at home. They have the experience as well. This Jaguars team hasn't been here before. I believe their defense will have a decent game but Brady will find a way to exploit it. I think this game hinders on Bortles and Fournette. Bortles needs to play as well as he did last game if not better and complete some big plays. and Fournette needs to play great especially in the redzone to keep up with the Patriots offense. I think this one will be closer than what the line tells you. But ultimately its going to be the Pats running game that puts them over the top.
Prediction: Patriots 27 - Jaguars 22