It's conference championship weekend in the NFL. Only two more weekends of NFL football left. In the AFC Championship Game the Jacksonville Jaguars travel north to Foxboro, Massachusetts to take on Tom Brady And The Rulebreakers.
The Jaguars will look to run the ball and run the ball and run the ball against the Patriots with Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars feature the NFL's #1 running game; however, that ranking is a bit skewed as it is the result of the Jaguars running the ball much more than any other team. On a per carry basis the Jaguars are closer to middle of the pack, and their big gun Fournette averaged a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry. Expect the Patriots to stack their fronts and shut down Fournette, forcing the Jaguars' Bortlistic quarterback to try and win the game. Blake Bortles making enough plays to beat the Patriots could happen, but it's not the way to bet.
The Patriots got a scare this week when Tom Brady hurt his hand in practice, but it appears he will be ready to go today. This Patriots team began the year getting shredded on defense in their first four games. However, over the Patriots' last 13 games they have given up more than 17 points only twice. The Patriots offense with Tom Brady under center has scored more than 17 points in every game this year and in all but two games over the last three years, illustrating just how difficult it will be for the Jaguars to win this game.
The Jaguars only hope is to get a dominating performance out of their #2 ranked defense. Unfortunately for the Jaguars that #2 ranking is largely the result of weak competition. The Jaguars have held opponents under 17 points nine times in 2017, but eight of those games were against some of the worst offenses in the NFL: Texans with Tom Savage twice, Ravens, Colts twice, Browns, Bengals, Titans and Bills. 12 of the Jaguars' 18 games this year have come against teams in the bottom half of the league in scoring. The only game the Jaguars dominated on defense against a good offense came against the Steelers, a game in which Ben Roethlisberger imploded with five turnovers.
This game looks like a mismatch on paper. The Patriots almost never lose at home in the playoffs. The quarterbacks, the most important position on the field, offer an enormous advantage to the Patriots. The Patriots defense almost never gives up more than 17 points, the Patriots offense never scores less than 17 points, and the Jaguars almost never hold a good offense under 17 points. On paper the game is already all but decided. Fortunately for the Jaguars the game isn't played on paper.
It's the Jaguars against the Patriots playing for a trip to the Super Bowl.
Enjoy the game everybody.