FOXBORO – Another year, another AFC Championship game held at Foxboro.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming into Gillette Stadium hoping to come up with an upset for the second week in a row, as the team from down under went into Pittsburgh and surprised many Terrible Towel wavers with a 45-42 victory.
This will be New England’s eighth straight time making it to the conference championship.
It would not be a Patriots playoff game without a little drama attached, as everyone in the New England area was holding their collective breathes following reports that quarterback Tom Brady had to receive stitches on his throwing hand. While the four-time Super Bowl MVP was listed as questionable, there is no doubt he will be on the field to lead the charge in hopes of appearing in Minnesota in two weeks.
With that being said, there are still a few factors to take into consideration due to the circumstances with the most famous hand in New England.
First, expect a lot of quick throws to the flat with the likes of the triple threat in the backfield that is Dion Lewis, James White, and a now healthy Rex Burkhead. Throwing to the flat would limit the amount of exposure to Brady’s hand.
Second, with Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye likely covering Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan, tight end Rob Gronkowski should see a lot of action. Even with the speed that exists in the Jacksonville linebacker core, especially Myles Jack, Gronkowski should be able to use his large frame to his advantage, creating mismatches.
By throwing the ball quickly, it limits the damage that the impressive defensive line boats in Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson and Dante Fowler Jr. can do to Brady.
Defensively, you have to make Blake Bortles try and beat you with his arm. Running back Leonard Fournette does not come into today’s action with a clean bill of health, thus TJ Yeldon should see a larger portion of snaps, especially in third-and-long situations.
Good news for New England’s defense is that it is finally starting to get healthy, with Kyle Van Noy having a game under his belt and ready to go.
The Patriots should not lose this game. If they do, it could very well go down as the franchise’s biggest choke jobs of all time. Check back here in a few hours to find out.
New England Inactives: Mike Gillislee (RB), Jacob Hollister (TE), Alan Branch (DL), Kenny Britt (WR), LaAdrian Waddle (OL), Bernard Reedy (WR) and David Harris (LB).
Jacksonville Inactives: RB Chris Ivory, DL Eli Ankou, LB Deon King, DL Carroll Phillips, OL Chris Reed, OL Josh Walker, OL William Poehls.