Divisional Playoffs: 1/12/08 New England Patriots vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
New England Patriots vs. Jacksonville Jaguars 8:30 pm NBC
The New England Patriots’ true run at immortality begins tomorrow. Nevermind that Bill Belichick’s bunch went 16-0 in the regular season, if the Pats are not picking confetti off of their sweat-soaked faces on February 3rd it was all for naught. They will join the ranks of the 1991 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, who steamrolled the NCAAs to a perfect regular season only to lose to Duke in the nightcap of the Final Four (And I haven’t gotten over it yet.).
The one thing that may hurt the Pats early could be rust, if Jack Del Rio is smart he will pound the ball relentlessly while taking and occasional shot down field. Ball control is essential here because as evidenced in last week’s win over the Steelers the Jaguars cannot hold a lead mixing it up. If you keep Brady, Moss and Co. off the field you better your chances.
Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor are as good a combination that we’ve seen in a long time. They remind me of Ernest Byner and Kevin Mack of the Cleveland Browns, they have power and speed and Jones has that special teams element working in his favor. Quarterback David Garrard despite his fourth down heroics last week must play error-free football and keep his troops focused for a full 60 minutes.
Brady and Co. will go for the jugular early, there is no reason to get into a potential slug fest with a team as physical as Jacksonville. The Jags in turn have to be careful not to go for the knockout early because if they miss it will be over before halftime (and don’t expect Belichick to put his foot on the brake).
I see a close game either way this goes – I would love for the Pats to go down but at the same time I want to see history. But it is my duty to give you guys a final score so here we go.
The Jags have to run the ball 45-50 times EFFECTIVELY to beat this team with no miscues on defense. If the Jags can keep it simple and mistake free, the Patriots’ luck in close games will run out.
Jags 27 – Pats 24