The Patriots will take on the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Both teams are coming off wins in week one and will face off for the first time since the AFC Championship game. In that game, the Patriots erased a 10 point fourth quarter deficit to return to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year. This AFC Championship rematch will kick off at 4:25 PM. ET.
Can the Patriots start 2-0?
The Patriots are still without their top wide receiver in Julian Edelman. The Patriots wide receiver core is so depleted that Philip Dorsett looked like the next coming of Deon Branch. And, while that might be a little farfetched, don’t be surprised if Dorsett’s involvement in the Patriots’ offense continues to grow even after Edelman returns in week five. Last week against the Texans, Dorsett received the third most targets from Brady, hauling in all seven for 66 yards and a score. In his second year on the Patriots, Dorsett looks primed for a breakout role in the offense.
The Patriots offense will rely heavily on their passing catching back, James White, against the Jaguars. With Hill lost for the season due to an injury sustained in week one, and Rex Burkhead looking a little banged up, expect White to match his team-leading 9 targets from Brady.
In week one, Brady had a solid start to his season. Despite being picked off by a tipped ball, Brady’s three touchdowns easily made up for the turnover. Against the Jaguars, don’t expect Brady to find the end zone as often. In last year’s AFC Championship game, Brady managed to throw two touchdowns but struggled for most of the game to move the ball. New England’s top three pass catchers from that game – Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, and Dion Lewis – are all suiting up elsewhere in 2018. While that could hurt the Patriots, it’s also an opportunity to show the Jaguars a completely different look this time around.
The Jaguars’ Defense is Legit
Jacksonville started their 2018 campaign against the New York Giants in week one, and the defense certainly showed up; outside of a 68-yard touchdown run by Giants’ rookie sensation Saquan Barkley. The Jaguars defense even got in on the scoring when Myles Jack picked off Eli Manning and returned it for a touchdown. Against the Patriots, the Jaguars will be facing a much more cerebral quarterback, but the opportunity for turnovers will be there. In week one, the Patriots turned the ball over three times, if the Jaguars can create that kind of defensive pressure on Brady, then expect the Jaguars to control this game with their defense.
The Jaguars biggest question marks are on offense. If not for the defensive touchdown, the Jaguars offense would have only come away with 13 points against a Giants defense that’s not an elite defensive unit the league. For the Jaguars to win, they need their defense to play great and they have. But against a Patriots squad that’s focused and healthy, that’s going to be a tall order. Making that even more of a challenge is the uncertainty of Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars punishing rusher was injured in their week one matchup, making him a game-time decision. His backup, T.J. Yeldon, is serviceable but certainly isn’t as intimidating for the Patriots’ run defense.
Jaguars Vs Patriots Betting Lines
It’s always hard to pick against the Patriots in such a close tilt. Despite this being a road game, the Patriots are favorites by the thinnest margin. The Jaguars defense will come to play, and their main objective will be to remove Gronk from the game. Expect Gronkowski to be covered for most of the day by a cornerback, or a combination of a linebacker and a safety; Brady will have to look elsewhere to move the ball. Expect James White and Phillip Dorsett to have another big day for the Patriots’ offense. If the Patriots defense can continue to create pressure on the opposing quarterback, then the Patriots should pull off the victory in Jacksonville.
Play: Patriots -1 @ BetOnline.ag