Week 16: New England Patriots At Jacksonville Jaguars
- QuarterbackWhile the Patriots went down to defeat at home against the 49ers in Week 15, their ability to comeback from a 28-point deficit was impressive. Tom Brady is on his way to a top-3 finish in the MVP voting this season and he could come up with the award with a strong finish. He is aggressive as a signal caller and accurate as a passer.The Jaguars got a little bit of a lift when Chad Henne took over at quarterbackfrom Blaine Gabbert, but that surge appears to have played itself out. Henne could not lead the Jaguars into the endzone against the Dolphins and he would appear to have no chance against the Patriots, who should be quite inspired after coming off a tough loss.
- OffenseRunning back Stevan Ridley had a tough game against the 49ers because he could not hold on to the ball in the elements and Bill Belichick went away from him for much of the game. He should be back in the mix this week. Brady should be able to do whatever he wants in throwing the ball to Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd. The Pats could get Rob Gronkowski (broken arm) back for this game.The Jaguars have not been consistent on offense and while wide receiver Cecil Shorts has had a solid season and he looked decent against Miami with six receptions for 101 yards, he is not enough to help them compete against the Patriots. Justin Blackmon has shown off his athletic ability from time to time, but he has not been consistent.
- DefenseThe Pats have weaknesses on defense, but they are better against the pass than they were last year or in the first half of this season. They have picked it up quite a bit after acquiring Aqib Talib at midseason because he is a solid cover man. Huge defensive tackle Vince Wilfork has 42 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 4 fumble recoveries.The Jaguars have shown a distinct lack of competitiveness on the defensive side of the ball. They rarely come to play for 60 minutes and they tend to make mistakes that give opponents easy touchdowns. Linebacker Paul Posluszny has a team-high 122 tackles and 10 passes defensed.
- Special TeamsThe Patriots rallied from a 28-point deficit against the Niners, but when they tied the game in the fourth quarter, their kickoff return team gave up a huge return that allowed San Francisco to recapture their momentum. The Pats are normally much better on special teams, but they failed in a crucial situation in Week 15.Opponents have gotten the best of the Jaguars on both punt and kickoff returns. The Jaguars have not had a punt or kickoff return longer than 38 yards this season. Placekicker Josh Scobee and punter Bryan Anger have been quite dependable this season.
The Patriots lost their position as the No. 2 seed in the AFC to the Broncos. The Pats must win out and hope the Broncos lose a game if they want a first-round bye in the playoffs. Look for New England to take care of business against the struggling Jags.