Sunday, Jan. 21st (3:05 PM): Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New England Patriots
The AFC Championship features the Jacksonville Jaguars taking on the New England Patriots. Many expected this year to feature a re-match between the Steelers and Patriots, but Jacksonville’s path to this point has made for a very compelling match-up as well. You also have the stinging statistic that Blake Bortles has as many playoff victories in the past two weeks (2) as the Cleveland Browns have in the past two years (1). Ouch.
The Jaguars feature a tough running game, but some smart offensive playcalling to make up for the lack of a threat in the passing attack. It is their defense that boasts the intimidating presence, helping get them off to a 21-0 start against the Steelers last week and keep the Bills to just 7 points in the first round. Although they gave up 42 points last week to Pittsburgh, some of those scores were the result of incredible desperation plays, not a porous defense.
And then the big storyline for the Patriots this week is Tom Brady’s hand injury. Although it seems like he’ll be OK, if he’s just a little bit off, this is one of the toughest secondaries in the NFL. It could be enough for the Jaguars to smell blood, grab the momentum, and stunningly find themselves representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. I believe it can happen, but my ultimate pick still falls with the Patriots. Patriots 27, Jaguars 17.
Browns fans should use this as an open thread to discuss the game!