A. The big question is can the Pats score enough points against a Jaguars defense that is excellent. In studying the tape, the Jaguars have two corners in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye who can cover well. The Jaguars also have extremely athletic linebackers who can handle Rob Gronkowski who had only one catch for 21 yards in the AFC Championship Game. The Pats will need to find a way for Phillip Dorsett and Chris Hogan to be productive. The Jaguars play a cover three defense - something the Seattle Seahawks ran in the Super Bowl in 2015. The strength of the cover three defense is that it takes away the deep routes. To be successful against Jacksonville, the Pats will need to throw a lot of crossing routes over the middle. Throwing outside the numbers is difficult against Jacksonville.
B. One way to identify whether the Jaguars are in man or zone is to split Rob Gronkowski out wide and see if a linebacker trails him. The Pats used this technique successfully against Seattle in the Super Bowl in 2015. The Pats will do whatever they can to have Gronkowski matched up against linebackers/safeties as opposed to cornerbacks — something he prefers. Gronkowski joked earlier in the week his preference is to line up against defensive linemen.
C. RB James White should have an important role in this game. He can help the Pats with a quick pace offense especially given his production in the screen game and the short passing game. The Pats will be reliant on White because RB Rex Burkhead (concussion) and RB Sony Michel (knee) are questionable for Sunday's game. The Pats signed RB Kenjon Barner this week. Jeremy Hill tore his ACL in last week's win and is out for the season. The Pats released Brandon Bolden (now with the Dolphins) and Mike Gillislee (now with the Saints) at the end of training camp.
D. The Pats need to find a consistent rotation with their defensive front to force Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (last week the Pats used 11 different linemen and linebackers in their front 6) to throw quickly. Bortles, who has limited mobility, can occasionally make big plays with his feet like his 41-yard scamper in the Jaguars win against the Giants last week. Bortles can make strong throws if given a lot of time because his downfield accuracy is respectable.
E. P Ryan Allen can be a big factor in this game. Last week he pinned the Texans at their one with just under a minute remaining - meaning the Texans need to drive 99 yards with no timeouts to tie the game. The Jaguars don’t have a lot of big play ability given their limitation at receiver. Thus, if Allen forces the Jaguars to complete long drives to score, it will be tough for the Jaguars offense to match the production of Tom Brady.
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