Patriots

What happened Sunday in Jacksonville won't happen again

What happened Sunday in Jacksonville won't happen again

Sunday was bad. Really bad. Did it signal a sea change in the AFC -- an AFsea change, if you will?

Probably not. 

Here's the logic: As you've probably been reminded roughly 7,000 times since the Jaguars wrapped up their 31-20 win over the Patriots Sunday evening, Bill Belichick teams get better over the course of the year. They have at least one bad early season loss, then the defense gets better over time to the point where it's good enough in the Super Bowl, provided you don't sit the star cornerback. 

For as troubling as Sunday looked, you can be confident enough in that improvement happening again to the point where the defense will look a heck of a lot better if and when these teams meet in the playoffs. 

What you can't be as confident in is that Blake Bortles will do that again. 

Bortles is fine. He's not great, and that gets him a lot of attention because a lot of other parts of that team are. On Sunday, the only time the Patriots touched him was when they seemingly put a gold jacket on him at the end of the first half. When all was said and done, the fifth-year QB had gone for 377 yards with four touchdowns and a pick. 

There are a lot of takeaways you can have from that game, most of which are probably about the defense being pretty bad right now. "Oh shoot, Blake Bortles is actually awesome!" isn't one of them. That's because he's been in the league long enough for him to establish what he is. Unless there's some sort of Eli Manning phenomenon going on here -- which should still bewilder people to this day -- Patriots fans should still feel pretty confident against the Jaguars, for now. 

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The "pretty" and the "for now" are important there because this is a team that still almost beat you once without Bortles being great. He was good in that AFC Championship -- 23 of 36 for 293 with a touchdown and no picks -- but his impact on that contest would fall under the "didn't lose the game for them, but wasn't exactly dominant" category. 

And that's common enough. Even with how important the quarterback position is, you need to be truly horrible to actually be incapable of winning on a good team. "Meh" QBs have won, and Bortles is more "meh" than horrible. 

As for the "for now," if that team is ever above average at quarterback while adding weapons and maintaining what they are on defense, they'd seemingly be favorites in a conference that's looking for someone to establish themselves as the Patriots wind down. If this group doesn't prove to be a flash in the pan and adds the necessary pieces, it's plausible that they could become the class of the AFC. 

But they're not there yet, at least as it relates to this season. Because Tom Brady's still there and the Patriots defense will get better. It always does because that's what Bill Belichick teams do. 

If we're going to look at the history there, we've also got to look at the history everywhere else. To expect Bortles to become the player he was Sunday would be a leap. Here's betting New England's defense will be better the next time these teams see each other, and the mythical figure that torched them Sunday will be nowhere to be seen. 

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Quick Slants The Podcast: Mayo on Brady's "chip on shoulder"; Should Andy Reid be embarrassed?

Quick Slants The Podcast: Mayo on Brady's "chip on shoulder"; Should Andy Reid be embarrassed?

Jerod Mayo and Tom E. Curran cover the AFC Championship Game and another Patriots' trip to the Super Bowl from all the angles in the latest edition of Quick Slants The Podcast.

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2:30 - Mayo breaks down who he thought had standout performances for the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
5:00 - Mayo explains how much Tom Brady’s "We get no respect" theme can be hugely successful in motivating teammates. 
9:00 - How much has the lack of Brady/Belichick drama this season led to the Patriots success?
11:00 - Mayo thinks Sean McVay will plan to exploit the Patriots run defense in the Super Bowl. 
12:30 - Mayo gives a player perspective on just how bad Dee Ford’s offside mistake was for the Chiefs.
14:00 - Mayo dishes on whether refs give players a heads up if they are offside.
16:00 - Should pass interference be reviewable?
19:00 - Tom E. Curran thinks Andy Reid should be ‘embarrassed’ for saying the refs should have told Dee Ford he was offside. 
23:00 - Just how brutal has Reid’s career been due to the Patriots?
25:00 - Just how badly does Brady’s "death by a thousand paper cuts" offense kill the morale of the defense? Mayo shares stories of how opposing offenses have deflated morale.
27:00 - Is Jared Goff the key to the Rams' success in the Super Bowl?

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More people in Los Angeles watched the Patriots than the Rams in the Conference Championship

More people in Los Angeles watched the Patriots than the Rams in the Conference Championship

The Rams don't exactly have the most loyal following in L.A.

After moving from St. Louis back to their original city in 2016, diehard fans have been hard to come by. Sunday's Conference Championship ratings in Los Angeles are evidence of that.

According to Joe Flint of the Wall Street Journal, more people in L.A. tuned in for Patriots-Chiefs than their hometown team taking on the Saints.

It'll be interesting to see the ratio of Patriots fans to Rams fans in Atlanta when the two teams face off in Super Bowl LIII. 

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