Up next for Pats: Another contender they usually beat like a drum
For the second straight week, the Patriots play a potential AFC contender . . . and one they traditionally have absolutely no trouble with. The Pats took care of business last week against the Texans. Now they face a challenge in Jacksonville.
Record: 1-0 (Last week: 20-15 win at New York Giants )
2017 Record: 10-6
Head Coach: Doug Marrone
Offensive Coordinator: Nathaniel Hackett
Defensive Coordinator: Todd Wash
Great defense tethered to a scattershot quarterback with two burly running backs and a modest set of skill position players. The Jags got to the AFC Championship Game in 2017 after a painfully boring 10-3 win in the Wild Card round over Buffalo and then a bizarro 45-42 win over the Steelers in the Divisional Playoffs. They had the Patriots on the ropes in the AFC Championship Game after driving Rob Gronkowski from the game with a helmet-to-helmet hit and getting a competent performance from Blake Bortles. But the Jags tried to run and hide with the lead and Tom Brady tracked them down, erasing a 20-10 deficit with two Brady to Danny Amendola touchdown throws in the final 8:44. Basically, the Jags tried to get out of Foxboro by relying on their defense to stop Brady, sadly forgetting he’d conquered defenses better than Jacksonville’s in bigger games than the AFC Championship.
Last week I told you how the Texans had the most talented front-seven in football and how scary they were? And then the Patriots went out and won 27-20 in a game that didn’t have to be that close. I shouldn’t do it again, but here goes. The Jaguars have one of the most talented defenses in football with stars at every level. Corner Jalen Ramsey flaps his gums and backs it up. The other corner, A.J. Bouye, is a second-team All Pro. Middle linebacker Myles Jack is one of the fastest linebackers in the game and Telvin Smith is right there with him. They are a lot to deal with in pursuit and coverage. Massive defensive end Calais Campbell (pictured) and defensive tackle Malik Jackson are also Pro Bowlers and the other defensive end, Yannick Ngakoue had 12 sacks last year. They also have Marcel Dareus up front. The Jags were second in the league defensively in points allowed (16.8 per game).
Leonard Fournette, their lead back, has a hamstring injury that leaves him day-to-day heading into this game. The Jags already lost receiver Marqise Lee for the season. He was their leading pass-catcher last year (56 receptions). That means that the already not-so-steady Blake Bortles is working with less than stellar weaponry. He went 18 for 33 last week against the Giants for 176 yards with a touchdown and a pick. The Jags offense managed just one touchdown last week (the other TD came on a Myles Jack interception return).
The Patriots are 8-0 at home against the Jaguars and 11-1 overall.