The Jacksonville Jaguars at the New England Patriots
Coming off a stunning victory against the Miami Dolphins, the Jacksonville Jaguars go to Foxboro this weekend trying to up end the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. The Patriots, coming off the demolition of Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills are trying to push their record to 3-0 and maintain their position in what could be an interesting division race in the AFC East.
In the 10 previous meetings between these teams, the Patriots are 9-1 with their only loss coming in 1999 when the Pete Carrol led Patriots lost in the Wild Card Round 25-10 in Jacksonville. One thing is for sure, the Jaguars will try to pull out all the stops to get their first win in Foxboro. So in yet another futile attempt to be non-bias and analytical, both teams were broken down in key areas to see how they will match up against each other and which one may have the key to a victory.
Quarterback – Patriots: There is really no comparison between the two quarterbacks. Tom Brady is off to a tremendous start this season leading the league in passing yards (754) and tied at the top with the most touchdown passes (7). Blake Bortals, on the other hand, has all the measurables of a high draft pick but has yet to have enough talent around him to showcase his talents.
Running Backs – Patriots: The Jaguars’ TJ Yeldon leads Jacksonville in rushing with 121 yards this year but his 3.3 ypc has not put fear into any defensive unit. The Patriots’ LeGarrette Blount has yet to get on track this year and provide any punch to the Patriots running game but surprise free agent Dion Lewis has provided both a spark in the running game and passing game as well.
Wide Receivers – Patriots: Jacksonville may have found themselves a go to wide receiver in Allen Robinson who shredded the Miami Dolphins’ secondary in Week 2 for 6 catches, 155 yards, and 2 TDs. The Patriots on the other hand have a group of receivers that have been causing match up nightmares for opposing defenses.
Tight Ends – Patriots: Julius Thomas was the prize tight end available over last off season and the Jaguars wrote the big check to bring him to Jacksonville. Unfortunately, a finger injury has prevented Thomas from making his regular season debut. On the Patriots side, all world tight end Rob Gronkowski paired with former Buffalo Bill (and now good) Scott Chandler have been a handful for defenses to matchup with inside the red zone.
Offensive Line – Patriots: Last Sunday the Jaguars’ offensive line did not allow a sack after giving up four or more sacks in their previous 8 games. This was a huge improvement however the Patriots’ offensive line, though youthful in the middle, has withstood superior defensive pressure than their Jacksonville counter parts.
Defensive Front Seven – Patriots: Though the Jaguars have some nice pieces in their front seven and have improved their run defense from Week 1 to Week 2 (even though week 2 was against Miami). However, they have not distinguished themselves as having the ability to rush the passer consistently. New England’s front seven just came off a big performance (all be it against the Buffalo Bills) and what they seem to lack in star power is made up with scheme and depth.
Secondary – Patriots: Jacksonville has a young starting secondary anchored by two 200 lb. safeties lurking in the middle of the field but they have yet to create any turnovers this season. New England’s secondary may be thin on talent but have the knack of coming up with big plays at opportune times during a game.
Special Teams – Patriots: Both teams have average punt and kickoff return teams but the Patriots get the edge having Stephen Gostkowski who has had a solid start to the 2015 season.
Coaching – Patriots: Much like the quarterback comparison, it really isn’t fair to measure Gus Bradley to Bill Belichick’s accomplishments and coaching ability. Bradley has brought some of the defensive concept to Jacksonville that he used during his time with the Seattle Seahawks. Though this has not translated into sustained success, he has been able to coach his team to a big Week 2 win over preseason division favorite Miami.
If we assign 2 points for every category (1 point per team for draws) this is how it lines up:
Key’s to a Patriots Victory:
- Avoiding the Trap: The Patriots are coming off a big win over a division rival that brought an emotional Tsunami with them last week. The Patriots should be feeling good that they are at the top of the division but should not take the Jacksonville Jaguars lightly even though the matchup heavily favors New England.
- Play it safe and don’t get cute: Last week, whether it was the environment or the emotional build up, the Patriots became uncharacteristically sloppy with play calls and execution in the 4th quarter which allowed the Bills to almost get back into the game. Had they face a more capable opponent, it could have spelled disaster. The Patriots need to stay focused in this game, especially late, if the score starts to get out of hand.
- Use the Back Ups: The league and much of the media believe that Tom Brady is on a “Tour of Vengeance” after the off season that he had to endure. If this game gets out of hand in the Patriots favor, Bill Belichick really needs to utilize the backups to ensure that a fluke play does not cause them to lose their franchise quarterback. This may go against Belichick’s nature to never let off the gas pedal but this season is early and there is no reason to jeopardize it by being greedy.
On paper this game is heavily favoring the Patriots and there is not any specific area that Jaguars can say is an advantage for them. However, as Dolphins fans found out in Week 2: On any given Sunday anything can happen. With a game with Dallas looming in Week 4, this match up has the classic look of a trap game for the Patriots. New England must stay focused on the task at hand and try not to let a game like this slip away due to complacency.
The Knuckles Prediction: Patriots 27 – Jaguars 17