The New England Patriots are one game away from playing yet another Super Bowl and going for their sixth Super Bowl. They pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history by beating the Rams in 2001, and the rest is history for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The Pats were pitted against a juggernaut Rams’ offense led by Kurt Warner, but the inexperienced Brady came out of it holding the Vince Lombardi above his head. That was the last year the Patriots truly played an underdog role.
They aren’t underdogs this week, and won’t be in the Super Bowl, either. Of course, that is if they defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon. No one gave the Jaguars a shot against the Steelers at Heinz Field, and there will be a few more who think they have a chance against the Patriots, because of last week. The Jags have been in the background this week, while Tom Brady has been the story around the NFL, and rightfully so.
There has been plenty of debate with respects to the injury to Brady’s hand. How serious is it? And will it impact his play on Sunday? I’ve heard just about everything, from the bone was protruding through the skin, to the Patriots are throwing a curveball and there is nothing wrong with his hand. The nothing wrong argument isn’t correct, in my opinion, anyway. It’s usually Patriot haters who say something like that. Do you really think Brady and Belichick sat down and came up with this to try and throw the Jaguars off? However, I will say, the thought of Brady not starting was pretty farfetched. If his hand was falling off, I’d still be confident in him getting the nod.
The Patriots cannot overlook this Jaguars team. They’ve played the underdog role well, and will look to pull off the ultimate win with a ticket to the Super Bowl on the line. They’re going to have to do it with the defense. Belichick and the Patriots, as I’ve said before, are masters are neutralizing strengths of opposing offenses. Shut Leonard Fournette down and force Blake Bortles to fire away. Bortles is better than he gets credit for, in the sense that he isn’t a bust. His numbers suggest otherwise. Nevertheless, Bortles won’t, or at least I believe, not going to be able to carry the load against the Patriots’ defense alone. We’ll see on Sunday what transpires, though. Head below for our free Jaguars vs. Patriots pick in the AFC Championship.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New England Patriots Betting Odds:
vs. Patriots -7.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Jaguars vs. Patriots Pick:
Defense got the Jaguars to Heinz Field last week in Pittsburgh, but it wasn’t what got them to Foxborough. The Jags won a wild 45-42 affair, with Bortles coming up huge under pressure. It was Fournette who paved the path, though, rushing for 109 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bortles threw for a touchdown and 214 yards. Roethlisberger was able to pass all over the Jags with 5 touchdowns and an interception, but it wasn’t enough.
The Jaguars are going to have to play much better on the defensive side of the ball to defeat the Pats. They aren’t going to get out of Foxborough alive if they play like that again on defense. The Steelers were not able to get spots. However, the Patriots should be able to get stops here. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore started off slow with his new team, but when he started to turn it around, the defense started to emerge.
In the Patriots last twelve games, the most points they’ve allowed is 27 against the Dolphins. If you recall, they fell asleep in Miami and didn’t care too much to be there. I had the Dolphins in that one so it was expected. It was a trap game with the Steelers next on the schedule. Since a loss to the Panthers in Week 4, the Pats have allowed 14 points per game. And at home, they surrendered 11.8 points per game since that outing.
The Jaguars went 6-4 on the road this season, including last week in Pittsburgh. They exploded a couple of times on the road this year, 45 points last week against the Steelers and 44 on the road in San Francisco. In the Wild Card Round, the Jaguars won a predictable game. Low-scoring with defenses dictating the 10-3 final. Unlike against the Steelers, I can see the Jaguars’ offense playing more like that. Do we expect them to play like that on offense consecutively in Pittsburgh and Foxborough?
There should be a hard line of regression for them in this game. After getting into a crazy game last week, they have to be emotionally and physically spent. Now they have to prepare for Belichick and the Patriots. The new of Brady’s hand is trapping Jaguars money here. He will play through the injury and we may not even notice there’s anything wrong. Just like last week, the Patriots will methodically pull away and earn a win and cover.
PICK: PATRIOTS -7.5 (-110)