Today’s AFC Championship game, which has the Jacksonville Jaguars at the New England Patriots, will kick off at 3:05 p.m. E.T. at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. The Jags come to this game having beaten Buffalo 10-3 in week one of the playoffs and Pittsburgh 45-42 in week two. The Patriots, who earned a bye and home field through the playoffs, met and beat the Tennessee Titans last week 35-14. Our Jacksonville plays New England 2018 AFC Championship pick offers the Patriots at anywhere from -7.5 to -9.0 and the over/under is at either 45.5 or 46.0.
In considering the Jags offense for our Jacksonville plays New England 2018 AFC Championship pick, we have to look at QB Blake Bortles’ numbers. His completing rate for the regular season is 60.2%, while in the playoffs, he’s dropped down to 53.1%. Regular season stats have him with 21 TD passes and 13 INTs. In the postseason, he has tossed two touchdown completions and no picks. The Jags scored 26.1 PPG this year. Rookie RB Leonard Fournette (268 ATT, 1,040 YDs, 3.9 AVG, 9 TDs) is this team’s major offensive weapon. He is listed as questionable due to an ankle problem. He is expected to play.
On defense, against the rush they were 21st in the league, while they were first versus the pass. They allowed 16.8 PPG, which was first in the AFC. In order to take him out of his game, the Jaguars will try to put pressure on Brady. The Jags come to the game with 55 sacks. Brady is vulnerable to the sack, having been brought down 35 times this season. They have 17 FF and 21 INTs.
- Great D, especially pass rush
- RB Fournette is explosive
- QB Bortles is vulnerable
New England Overview
For the Patriots, there will be two factors that will play into whether or not they are successful on offense. One is the team’s ability to use the rush against a defense that is below average in stopping the ground game. RB Dion Lewis (108 ATT, 896 YDs, 5.0 AVG, 6 TDs) is key, as is either of two running backs listed as questionable for today- Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead. The other is Brady’s (66.3 COMP%, 32 TDs, 8 INTs) ability to connect with receivers on short to medium yardage plays. This will be very important in the Brady to Gronkowski (64 REC, 1,084 YDs. 15.7 AVG, 8 TDs) connection. Brady does have a fine array of receivers to pass to, including the elusive and speedy Brandin Cooks (65 REC, 1,082 YDs, 16.6 AVG, 7 TDs). Is Brady okay to play? The word is “yes.” He does have stiches in his right hand and is expected to wear the red glove to protect the injury.
The Pats were no slouches on defense, allowing 18.5 PPG (5th NFL). They were 20th in rushing yards allowed and 30th in passing yards. The Pats registered 43 sacks this season. Bortles has been brought down 24 times. New England will need to focus on coverage and the Jaguar running game. They have a dozen picks and 65 PD. As far as the Jaguar rush attack is concerned, the Pats have to stop star rookie running back Fournette.
- Brady injured is still better than Bortles healthy
- Offense needs mix of rush and short pass with a long one or two
- Defense must control Fournette
Three AFC Championship Takeaways
Our Jacksonville plays New England 2018 AFC Championship pick offers these three major takeaways-
- Pats are golden in playoffs at Gillette
- Jag D versus Pat O – we take Pat’s O in second half
- Jacksonville and NE red zone defenses are 4th and 5th respectively
Our Jacksonville plays New England 2018 AFC Championship Pick
Our Jacksonville plays New England 2018 AFC Championship pick is the Pats at -7.5. We think it will be close in the first half, and then in the second, New England will pull away. Despite the tough Jag D, we expect points to be scored in this one. Can they get it to 45.5? If the Pats can score about 28 to 31 and the Jags 20, they just make the over. We think that’s reasonable. We’re going with over 45.5.