What to Watch For: Patriots vs Jaguars
Sunday, September 16, 2018
The Patriots beat Jacksonville 24-20 in last year’s AFC title game to advance to the Super Bowl.
“It's going to be an emotional environment. I think everyone, whenever you play some of the best teams, you want to see where you're measured up to, and that defense has been ranked very high all last year, and I could see why. We practiced against them. They were very good. They've got a lot of very talented players - some of the guys that are probably the best at their position,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his press conference on Wednesday.
Both teams enter the game with a record of 1-0 with the Patriots beating Houston last week and the Jaguars beating the Giants.
"This team is very good, very talented and I'm sure playing them at home in their home opener this week, there will be a lot of energy in the stadium. This will be a good test for us. We'll see where we're at," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during his press conference on Wednesday.
Game time is set for 4:25 p.m.
Looking Back at the AFC Championship
Trailing 20-17 with just under three minutes to play, Tom Brady connected with Danny Amendola in the back of the end zone to give the Patriots a 24-20 lead after a Gostkowski extra point.
The lead was the Patriots first lead since they went up 3-0 in the first quarter.
On Jacksonville’s final possession, Stephon Gilmore broke up a Blake Bortles pass on fourth and 14 to give the Patriots the ball back.
The Patriots sealed the win when Dion Lewis broke an 18-yard run helped by a block from Brown University grad James Develin to seal the win.
Patriots vs Jaguars All-Time
In the Brady/Belichick era, the Patriots have never lost to the Jaguars as they are 7-0.
The last time the Patriots played in Jacksonville was in December of 2012 when New England edged the Jaguars 23-16.
The last time the Jaguars beat the Patriots was in the 1998 AFC Wild Card Game.
See What to Watch for in the Slideshow Below
Related Slideshow: 5 Things to Watch For: Patriots vs Jaguars - September 2018
Ramsey vs Gronkowski
Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey spent the majority of the offseason trash talking the New England Patriots and specifically tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Last month, Ramsey said, "I don’t think Gronk’s good. Let me say, I don’t think Gronk is as great as people think he is. Any time Gronk has been matched up with a corner, he’s had a very bad game, and that corner has had a very good game.”
When asked about his comments during his media availability on Thursday, Ramsey continued, “I might be crazy, I don’t care. He’s good, don’t get it twisted, he’s good. You saying this to me is supposed to bring fear to me or something? I don’t fear no man, period. So he’s going to have to come out there and line up on me.”
Gronkowski was asked about Ramsey's comments during his press conference on Wednesday.
"I mean, if that's how he feels, that's how he feels. It's a big game this Sunday, we're playing them. I'm sure I'm going to have opportunities to go versus him. I'm sure he's going to have opportunities to go versus me. I'm just preparing like I always prepare. I've got to just do my job out on the field, just worry about that," said Gronkowski.
There is a good chance that Ramsey and Gronkowski will be matched up on Sunday.
The Jacksonville Jaguars enter the game with one of the best passing defenses in the league, ranked first in touchdowns allowed and 11th in yards allowed.
However, their run defense is an area that the Patriots could take advantage of. The Jaguars are ranked 28th in yards allowed per attempt and 16th in total yards allowed.
The Patriots running back group took a hit last week when Jeremy Hill tore his ACL and is out for the season.
That leaves James White, Rex Burkhead, who has been sidelined with a concussion all week and is questionable to play, newcomer Kenjon Barner and rookie Sony Michel, who just returned from injury.
"He gets better every day. Again, he missed a lot of plays in training camp and in training camp practices. He's gotten more of a chance to be involved with those more recently, and each time he runs them, he sees something a little different or reacts a little bit quicker or whatever it is and he gains more confidence by doing something, multiple, double-digit times," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during his press conference on Friday.
Fullback James Develin also saw some action in the running game and passing game last week and could see that again this week.
Earlier this week, the Patriots signed two receivers, Corey Coleman from Buffalo and Bennie Fowler from Chicago.
Both players saw reps with Tom Brady in practice this week, but will they have an impact or see any time on Sunday?
Coleman is a former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2016.
He played two seasons for the Browns, hauling in 56 passes for 718 yards and five touchdowns.
Last month, Coleman was traded to the Bills, but did not make the cut.
Fowler signed with the Denver Broncos in 2015 as an undrafted free agent and would spend the next three seasons there.
While there, he racked up 56 catches for 698 yards and five touchdowns.
Last spring, he signed as a free agent with the Chicago Bears, but was cut.
Returning punts could be a bit of an adventure for the Patriots in this game.
"I mean, it comes easier to some people than others - but, I mean, in the end, you can learn how to catch punts. I mean, I feel like I can catch punts just because I can know where the ball's going to go. I mean, I might drop it, but I can pick up the direction, I can get under the ball, so I think it can be a learned skill," said Belichick on Friday.
Last week, Riley McCarron returned punts, but fumbled one near the end of the game allowing Houston to get a late score.
McCarron was released earlier this week.
The man returning punts this week is likely newcomer Kenjon Barner.
Barner returned 27 punts last season with the Eagles for 240 yards.
It is going to be a hot one down in Jacksonville on Sunday.
According to weather reports, temperatures are expected to be about 94 degrees, but feel more like 104 degrees on the field.
According to ESPN, Brady has only started one game in his career when temperatures were at least 90 degrees.
That came in 2005 when the Patriots played the visited the Carolina Panthers and lost 27-17.
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