After what could be called the biggest win during Gus Bradley’s tenure, the Jaguars go and face one of their biggest challenges, the defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. The Patriots have started off on fire this year, with Brady throwing for over 460 yards in Buffalo against one of the league’s better defenses and secondaries. The Jags come into week three as the biggest underdogs, but it is a chance to show the league just how competitive they can be.
The Patriot’s offense is possibly the best in the NFL right now. Their defense isn’t on the same level, though they do lead the league in sacks. With Luke Joeckel still possibly out and right guard Brandon Liner (who just got hurt in practice) banged up, keeping Bortles upright will be a huge factor … like it is every week. Overall, the Pats defense isn’t anywhere close to as good as the unit that won the Super Bowl, as both of their corners left in the offseason.
New England has been successfully run against in both games. The Bills and the Steelers both ran the ball very well, and overall, each offense was able to move throughout the game. The Jags have said T.J. Yeldon is ready for increased workload after his full load of 25 carries last week. It’s even more crucial since Denard Robinson is out a few weeks with a knee sprain. The best way to stop Brady is to keep him off the field. Eating clock with the run game can go a long ways in helping the defense.
To stay close in the game, they’re still going to need a few big plays to go with a steady diet of Yeldon — cue A-Rob and an even healthier Marquis Lee. Belichick has already commented on Lee’s speed this week, and he looked really comfortable in his limited action last week. If Blake can connect with them for a few big plays, the momentum could swing their way.
Chances are, there will be no way to truly stop Patriot’s tight end Rob Gronkowski. He already has four touchdowns this season and presents a matchup problem to whoever is on him. Who the Jags can’t allow to go crazy is Julian Edelman. He already has an absurd 22 grabs on the season and was targeted 19 times last week. Aaron Colvin or Devon House will likely try and slow him down in the Patriot’s short passing game.
New England’s running back situation is usually fluctuating. Depending on the week, matchup or practice leading up to it Belichick could use any one of three backs. They have their moments where they run 40 times for 200 yards as a team, but that’s only based on the matchup (usually against the Colt’s poor run defense).
I think Bortles has a good chance at throwing for 300 yards throughout this game. If the Jags can run the football and drain the clock, the entire atmosphere will be completely different than Brady throwing all over the field.
Prediction: Patriots 34 — Jaguars 24