|Date:||December 27th, 2009
|Time:||1 PM EST
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|SBN Coverage:||Pats Pulpit||Coverage Map
The Jaguars travel to their personal house of horrors in desperate need of a win. The Jaguars are still in the thick of the Wild Card race as they somehow end up at the top of the 7-7 cluster thanks to various tiebreakers. Simply put, the playoffs start Sunday for the Jaguars. I'm not sure if they'll still somehow be "mathematically" alive still or not if they lose on Sunday, but we all know there will be little difference.
The Jaguars have not had any success in New England, and have lost by double digits in all but one trip there. However, this isn't the Pats team that it was earlier in the decade, and the Jaguars have a knack for winning it all when things seem the darkest, so how will this unfold?
Jaguars Offense vs Patriots Defense
After rushing for more yards than any other Jaguars through 8 games, Maurice Jones-Drew has been having a quiet second half of the season. Excellent performances against the Jets in Week 10 and last week vs Indianapolis book end a very pedestrian four week stretch.
Still, Jones-Drew is third in the league in rushing and tied for the league lead in rushing touchdowns. The murmurs that he wasn't a 16 game back began to grow louder during November, so he'll need to have a good December to make solidify he can be a feature back.
While the Patriots run defense isn't a brick wall, it is still a respectable 15th in the league. They are still anchored by All-Pro NT Vince Wilfork and that presents a problem to the Jaguars because of their poor interior line play. More importantly, the unit has only surrendered three touchdowns on the ground all year. They'll be tested with Jones-Drew and will provide an exciting match up to watch.
While the Patriots no longer have corners like Ty Law and Asante Samuels, they are still very good against the pass. The Patriots rank 10h in the league against the pass. The Patriots are 29th in the league in allowing passes to go for 1st downs at 37.1%. However, they make you work for those first downs, ranking in the top third of the league for against passes of 20 and 40+ yards.
David Garrard has one of his best games ever the last time he went to New England, and something along those same lines would be a great thing to see. He did it last time with a group of WRs that would've been middle of the pack by CFL standards, so it should in theory be easier this time around.
Patriots Offense vs Jaguars Defense
Regardless of Fred Taylor's status, this is all about Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker was the Jaguars secondary. The Patriots will throw the ball alot with Brady out of the shot gun, that is a given.
How the Jaguars can deal with that is where we'll see how this game goes. Brady set a playoff record for completion percentage in 2007 and the Jaguars defensive situation hasn't improved much sense. Rashean Mathis is listed as questionable, and his participation is certainly a make or break deal for the Jaguars.
While Brady hasn't been having his best statistical year, the Jaguars defense has been letting average quarterbacks look like Pro Bowlers, so I'm not cheery on my outlook for how this goes. Regardless of if the secondary can cover Moss and Welker for most of the time, if the Jaguars have the same pass rush they had against Indianapolis, they might as well have not even boarded the plane.
Player On The Hot Seat
Derrick Harvey, DE
This is the kind of game why Harvey was practically made the Jaguars 2008 draft. He had a bad game against a back up tackle against Indy, and only has two sacks on the year. I know we're supposed to adjust our expectations, but if Tom Brady has all day to throw it'll be a long day for the Jaguars.
New England Patriots 27