ONCE once more we discover ourselves with an AFC Championship Recreation that includes the New England Patriots.
Tom Brady’s males have made the ultimate 4 for a staggering seventh yr operating and are in search of a sixth Tremendous Bowl ring.
All they should do to make it again to the Tremendous Bowl is beat a 10-6 workforce who made the play-offs for the fist time a decade in entrance of their house followers at Gillette Stadium.
It sounds a fairly straight-forward process for the perennial powerhouse of the AFC.
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However, regardless of the mind-boggling stats, the Patriots are removed from invincible and are matched up this week in opposition to a workforce who might exploit any chinks of their armour.
New England have misplaced three of the final six AFC Championship Video games they have been part of and gained the Tremendous Bowl on two events, each of these by the pores and skin of their tooth.
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Jacksonville have an opportunity to repeat what Baltimore did 5 years in the past and stun the Patriots on their house patch within the AFC Championship Recreation.
They seem to be a workforce which can be constructed to take action – led by Tom Coughlin within the entrance workplace who coached the Giants to Tremendous Bowl wins over the Patriots in 2008 and 2012.
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Doug Marrone’s males have a defence able to giving Brady nightmares, and a operating recreation that may hold him and the Patriots offence on the sidelines.
Jacksonville held Buffalo to 3 factors within the Wild Card Spherical, and compelled two extra turnovers on Ben Roethlisberger of their win over the Steelers within the Divisional Spherical.
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Leonard Fournette had 109 yards and three touchdowns last week and continues to produce despite opposing defences granting as many resources as they can to shut down the running game.
Brady generally performs well in shootouts when he can go toe-to-toe with the opposing offence, but can get frustrated quickly if things aren’t going his way.
He’s lost two AFC Championship Games against Denver’s stingy defence, and one to Ray Lewis and Co from Baltimore.
All that being said – New England are still heavy favourites to win on Sunday and make it back to the NFL’s showpiece game.
Head coach Bill Belichick always finds a way to take away the opposition’s strength and his focus will be on stopping Fournette.
Jacksonville’s defence match up very well on the Patriots, but Brady has so many options and weapons at his disposal.
The Jags can play with freedom knowing that New England are expected to win and the pressure is all on them.
But Brady has dealt with it all before, and will fancy his chances to reach the Super Bowl for a staggering eighth time.
WHAT THEY SAID
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on Calais Campbell: “He is a great player. He does everything well. He is hard to block in the running game. He has a lot of length, which is a problem for blocking any inside player. He plays outside and he plays inside. He is a problem both places. He is a good pass rusher. He has quickness. He has power. He is a good field goal blocker. Wherever he is on the field, he is a factor. He runs well and pursues well. A smart, instinctive player. Reads screens, draws and plays like that you try to use to slow him down or take the edge off him. He is quick to diagnose those. He is a great football player.”
TALE OF THE TAPE
Regular-season record: 10-6 (1st in AFC South)
Wild Card Round: beat Buffalo 10-3
Divisional Round: beat Pittsburgh 45-42
Best playoff appearance: AFC Championship Game (1996, 1999, 2017)
Regular-season record: 13-3 (1st in AFC East)
Wild Card Round: Bye
Divisional Round: beat Tennessee 35-14
Best playoff appearance: Super Bowl winners (2001, 2004, 2004, 2014, 2016)
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski on Jacksonville’s defence: “They have very talented players on both sides of the ball. Especially on defense, they have many, many great players. It is going to be a big challenge. It is the best team we are facing all year coming up in the AFC Championship Game this weekend. We have to be ready. We have to be prepared. It is going to be a big, tough challenge, for sure.”
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone on Tom Brady having a hand injury this week: “I’m sure he can probably throw it left-handed if he had a problem with the right hand. It’s always amazing when you go out during pregame warm-ups and watch him. You see a lot of quarterbacks who have to go out and have to warm up. He can literally go pick up a ball and throw it and you would think that he’s ready to go. When you’re in this league, you watch a lot of quarterbacks warm up and they all warm up and get themselves ready to go. I really think he’s one of the most naturally gifted throwers that I personally have ever seen.”