Round II: The Rematch

AFC Game Of The Week

New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars

Patriots: “This maybe the weakest receiving core they have entering season and Edelman being gone will make all the difference”. Yeah, they don’t have the weapons they did last year. They traded Brandin Cooks and decided not to resign Danny Amendola and let’s also remember that they still won their division, clinched the top seed in the AFC and won the AFC championship without Julian Edelman. In all my years of watching them, I think they’re a scarier offense when they don’t have everybody on the field and I can explain what I mean by that. As a defense, you just never know what they are going to do to move the football down the field because if you struggle to stop the run, they are going to pound the ball in between the tackles and if you can’t defend the pass, Tom is going to pick you apart. In the opening win against the Texans, Brady tore apart the Texans defense and threw three touchdown passes: One to Gronkowski, one to James White and the other was to Phillip Dorsett who became the 69th player to catch a touchdown pass from the legendary quarterback. It really doesn’t matter who’s on the field for the Patriots, but as long as number 12 is under center, you have a shot week in and week out. What grabbed my attention was their defense and that was their downfall last season and this year, they’ll have a different scheme under a new defensive coordinator in Brian Flores. They put a lot of pressure on Deshaun Watson and really turned up the defensive intensity once they were in the red zone as they are known to do. They’ll face a team that they sent home just eight months ago this Sunday.

Jaguars: It’s a brand new season and what I saw them do last week against the Giants defensively showed me that they haven’t missed a single beat on that side of the football. They are still one of the three best defensive units in the NFL and will be for the next few seasons. So you ask what makes them so good? They are solid in all three phases starting with the defensive line and how they’re able to dominate the line of scrimmage and apply pressure on the quarterback without having to put an extra man in the box so they depend on their athleticism to make plays. Their linebacking core is solid over the middle and they all swarm to the football when defending the run and their secondary is one of the best groups in the league along with having the best cornerback tandem in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye and they can cover guys in pure man to man coverage across the board. I’ve often found myself comparing them to those Legion of Boom defenses of the Seattle Seahawks back when they had Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. Last week was an important game for them because they had to come out and show that last season wasn’t a fluke and it’s always good to win your first game of the season. I still have some questions about their offense because they lost their top two receivers from last year in Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. Yes, you still have Leonard Fournette, but he can’t be the only guy to do something with the football in his hands. Blake Bortles also got his contract extension in the off-season, but I know for a fact not too many are still sold on him which I get and you can’t be sold on a guy after one season. Sunday will be their home opener and I know they’ve had this one circled on the calendar.

Patriots Player To Watch: James White– Behind Gronk and Chris Hogan, he’s one of their best pass catchers and until Julian comes back, he’ll be depended on a lot to make catches in short yardage situations and on third down. He’s a running back, but I’ve also considered him another wide receiver because he catches the ball more than you see him run it.

Jaguars Player To Watch: Austin Seferian-Jenkins– There was a lot of hype surrounding him when he entered the league and he’s with another team in his NFL career. He’s a mismatch over the middle and in the redzone and he’ll be that safety valve for Bortles in this one.

Final Analysis: When they met in the AFC title game just eight months ago, it was one of the 4 best games I ended up seeing last season and there were some good storylines as the game approached back in January. Remember when Jalen Ramsey came out and said now only would they beat the Patriots, but they would win the Super Bowl? Then, you had Brady’s hand and the infamous red gloves he wore at a press conference and there was also Tom Coughlin and how he knows the Patriots after defeating them twice in a Super Bowl and was he in on the gameplan even as a front office guy, it was a lot. Throughout the year in 2017, I kept stating that if there was any team who could give them a problem, it was Jacksonville because they play that physical brand of football and they have the defensive formula to limit the New England offense. Here we are for the rematch! If I’m Jacksonville, I’m trying to attack a Patriots offensive line that isn’t at full strength right now and they have to win the turnover battle. When New England turns the ball over, they have a record of 37-42. The key for New England is to test Bortles early on and make these wide receivers along with the passing game beat them.

Prediction: Patriots 24 Jaguars 21