The Patriots are trying to defend their Super Bowl title, but will first have to execute their way past a tricky Jaguars squad on Sunday, playing some of their best football on both sides of the ball. The Jaguars and Patriots held a joint practice in August and played in the preseason, where Jacksonville emerged a 31-24 victor.
It's going to take a special all-around performance for the Jaguars to knock off the Patriots, especially from a beastly defense that should be stoked to redeem itself after allowing so many big plays at Pittsburgh. The Patriots are nine-point favorites over the Jaguars and the Vikings are three-point favorites over the Eagles. Defensive lineman Alan Branch and running backs Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead also were limited by knee injuries. Following that, in the final two minutes and thirty seconds when the Steelers were 7 points behind, they instead made a decision to kick an on-side kick and failed to recover it which then allowed Jacksonville to score a field goal. Offensively, the Patriots finished 2nd with almost 29 point sper game. Ramsey and Bouye will need to make plays against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his plethora of weapons.
The 40-year-old has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career. The quarterback found his tight end Rob Gronkowski early and often.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, led by head coach Doug Marrone are looking to keep finding ways.
And, it has all come full circle for Tom Coughlin, who was Jacksonville's coach the previous time the franchise got this far in the postseason. The first game was a 10-3 win over the Bills, and the second game was a 45-42 win over the Steelers. Mariota threw more interceptions than touchdown passes this season, his third.
That game was all too real for the Saints, as it was for the Eagles who watched the game thinking they were going to play the Saints at home on championship weekend.
Our Free NFL Pick: The Steelers-Jaguars game was indeed an exciting one that went down to the wire in the final quarter and if it was not for some bad decisions in the final two and a half minutes, it could have very well been the Steelers walking away with the victory there.
Jacksonville will have to play error free to win due to the Patriots unflappable confidence. The only way to beat the Patriots is to get pressure on Tom Brady, and the Jaguars have the defense to do it.
The Jaguars can't bank on New England self-destructing. With it appearing like Burkhead will be back, the Patriots will be very healthy coming into the AFC Title Game.