The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / This is How the Jaguars Can Beat the Patriots

This is How the Jaguars Can Beat the Patriots

How the Jaguars can win


Everybody outside of Jaguars fans believe this game is a foregone conclusion. In the immortal words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast!” The old saying is defense wins championships. If that is still true today, the Jaguars have a better defense than the Patriots. So why are they bordering on being a double-digit underdog? Let’s take a look at how the Jaguars can pull this upset.

Run defense

The Patriots are tenth in the NFL in rushing offense and the Jaguars are ranked 21st in run defense. So on the outside looking in, this looks like it could be a problem for the Jaguars. However, the Jaguars have been much better in stopping the run since they acquired tackle Marcell Dareus at midseason. He’ll be in there for base 4-3 sets. If the Jaguars can stop the Patriots run game, they may force the Patriots to play with two backs in the backfield. They may also make them go to more two-tight end sets to run the ball, which means there’s both some strong edge blocking aid from Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen, and two targets who can stretch the middle of the field.

The Jaguars are mainly a cover 3 team and they can defend the tight ends stretching the field because they have a very athletic linebacking corps, and one of the best, if not the best secondary in all of football. So the key is limiting the run game. If they do, the chances of an upset are greatly improved.

Containing the Patriots passing game

The Patriots’ starting wide receivers, Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan, will struggle big-time with the size and coverage abilities of Jaguars cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. When the Patriots go three wide, Danny Amendola will have his hands full with underrated nickelback Aaron Colvin. Add in that devastating Jacksonville pass rush and this has all of the makings of a very difficult game for the Patriots.

I look for the Patriots to come out in a no-huddle, hurry-up offense to limit the ability of Jacksonville to substitute, and if the Patriots have success doing this, it could give them the advantage they need to win the game.

Surprise x-factor for the Jaguars

On a team full of younger players with little playoff experience, Malik Jackson is the one who has been on the field to defeat New England twice already in AFC championship games while in Denver.

Jackson was a monster in the games against the Bills and Steelers as Jacksonville’s veteran anchor. Campbell and Ngakoue have the double-digit sacks, but Jackson can have a much bigger overall impact vs. run and pass Sunday.

The Jaguars run game

The Jaguars will want to run the ball inside and to the left behind left guard Patrick Omameh and center Brandon Linder against the much weaker right side of the Patriots’ front. If they choose to run right, they’ll have the benefit of the game’s best run-blocking tight end, Marcedes Lewis, to go along with sturdy right tackle Jeremy Parnell. The kicker will be two-tight sets with James O’Shaughnessy. Against the Steelers, the Jaguars excelled at throwing out of running formations to O’Shaughnessy, fullback Tommy Bohanon and third tight end Ben Koyack. If the Patriots cannot stop the run it will make Blake Bortles’ life much easier.

Another factor: If the Patriots are stopping the Jaguars early, the Jaguars have a change-of-pace back in T.J.Yeldon to go to and quarterback Blake Bortles, as he showed against the Bills, is a capable runner.

Jaguars passing game

Against the Steelers the Jags kept it simple for Bortles, mainly using bootlegs and screens. I expect this to be the Jaguars game plan again, and it can work, but only if they can run the ball.

The Patriots will want to play to their strength though and will do their best to squeeze on the short-to-intermediate routes and make Bortles beat them deep to soften up the coverage. That plan will only work if they can consistently contain the running game.

Will the upset occur?

Who knows, but I can definitely see the Jaguars pressuring the Patriots up the middle and shutting down the run game, which gives them a legitimate shot to win. My biggest key is if Blake Bortles  cannot turn the ball over. In the end, that may be the biggest key to this entire game.

Checkout our prediction article on Saturday where we will break the game down and give you The Grueling Truth’s pick.


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