AFC Championship Game Rematch Preview

The New England Patriots travel down to north Florida for their week 2 matchup against the team they faced last January in Foxboro for the AFC Championship Game. Tom Brady led the Patriots to a 4th quarter comeback down 10 to win the game and advance to the Super Bowl in Minnesota. The result of the game certainly left a sour taste in the mouths of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but both teams enter this tilt at 1-0 fresh off opening week victories.

This game is a little different for Brady since last January as he is without Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks who departed this off-season, but he does have Rob Gronkowski active and healthy after he left that game early last year in the concussion protocol. Phillip Dorsett flashed his ability in week one and alongside Chris Hogan, Brady has at least a few weapons to work with against a very stout Jaguars defense. It remains to be seen how much impact, if any, newcomers Corey Coleman and Bennie Fowler will have just signing and being on the active roster, but I expect a similar attack as last week against Houston using the backs White and Burkehead and feeding their big tight end.

Jags offense vs. Patriots defense:

Last week, we saw a new style of defensive scheme from Brian Flores. With Coach Belichick giving his blessing and there every step of the way, we saw the Patriots defense look really good through the majority of the game against the Texans. Deshaun Watson was under constant pressure from the ends with Deatrich Wise and Trey Flowers combining for 3 sacks and harassing the second-year QB all afternoon. Ja’Whaun Bentley looked great flowing sideline-to-sideline along with Dont’a Hightower controlling the middle with Stephon Gillmore locking it down on the back-end.

As for the Jags, they struggled in the second half of the game against the Giants to run the ball once Leonard Fournette went down with a hamstring injury, Blake Bortles was just 6-for-16 passing for 53 yards, luckily their defense came up with a pick-six that sealed the 20-15 win over New York. I’m sorry, but if Fournette can’t go on Sunday, I don’t see how the Jaguars move the ball at all on offense. Belichick & Flores are already going to make Bortles beat them through the air, keeping him in the pocket and getting after him, and without the big tailback to at least make the Patriots respect the run game, the Jags are in for a long afternoon. This defense is for real and the Jags don’t have a single weapon outside of Fournette that are any good. TJ Yeldon, Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole? Give me a break. Only chance the Jags have is to force turnovers on defense, get good field position and into field goal range for Josh Lambo.

Patriots offense vs. Jaguars defense

Here is the story line everyone will be talking about heading into this game. How can 41-year-old Tom Brady out-class the “vaunted” Jaguars defense. Jalen Ramsey, the outspoken Jags corner has been chomping at the bit to get his hands on Gronk stating in an interview last month, “I don’t think Gronk is as great as people think he is.” Ramsey also referenced every time he’s matched up one-on-one with a corner he has a bad game and the corner has a good one. If there’s one thing you can take away from this Patriots dynasty with five Super Bowl wins and countless AFC Championship Game berths, it’s that the best way to beat them is to run your mouth and talk trash, right? Good one Jalen, all you’ve done is right checks with your mouth that your team can’t cash and feed Brady & Belichick for some more bulletin board material for their flight down to the Sunshine State.

Don’t get me wrong, the Jags defense is no joke. Look at the front seven with Macel Dareus, Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, Myles Jack with Ramsey, Church and Bouye on the back-end. The Jaguars have an elite defense, but Tom Brady also torched them in the second half last year in Foxboro and you’ve awoken a sleeping giant in Gronkowski. We will see a lot of what we saw last week from Josh McDaniels calling the offense, quick plays to get the ball out of Brady’s hands and into that of the play-makers. We may even get our first glimpse of Sony Michel and see what kind of damage he can inflict on the Jags defense once he gets to the edge.

This will be your prototypical week for Brady and the Patriots to go in to another team’s house against a nasty defense and come out with a hard-earned win. All they have to do is execute on offense and not turn the football over and they will win.

Game Prediction

Not to toot my own horn, but I was spot on last week with the Patriots game pick. I told readers they would get out to an early lead and hold off for their first win of the season at home. I even predicted a 7-point win with a back-door cover for Houston. Without further ado, here’s my prediction for week two.

The Patriots will win all three phases. Special teams, clear advantage. Defense against Jags offense, clear advantage. Offense against a stout defense, advantage as long as they protect the football. It won’t be easy to move the ball, but the Jaguars won’t move it at all against New England. Tom Brady throws for one touchdown and they get another on the ground as they exit Jacksonville with an ugly, but effective 20-9 victory.

Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank

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