Here is my key matchup for Saturday's divisional matchup between Jacksonville and New England ...
The Jaguars rank second in the league in rushing, averaging 149 yards per game with an average of 4.6 yards per carry. Clearly, the key for Jacksonville is to run the ball and control the clock. That said, the Patriots can still score a lot of points in a short amount of time if the opposition doesn't put pressure on Tom Brady.
|Here's how these teams stacked up this season in some critical statisitcal categories:|
|Third-down conversion pct.||45.7||48.2|
Jacksonville's Paul Spicer was one of the most outspoken players in NFL after the Patriots' "spy-gate" story came out at the beginning of the season. He ran his mouth off about how New England should be punished, and it's no surprise that those comments have re-surfaced this week as bulletin-board material in the Patriots' locker room. However, unlike Pittsburgh's Anthony Smith, Spicer has a real chance to back up his words.
Spicer is a very good pass rusher with long arms, and he excels at the "rip under" inside move and the "pull punch" rush move. He has very good ability to get his hips up-field and could present problems to Patriots left tackle Matt Light. Spicer is Jacksonville's team leader in sacks with 7.5 during regular season (he had another one in last week's wild-card win over Pittsburgh).
Brady, if given time, will pick you apart -- short, medium or long, it doesn't matter. He completed 69 percent of his passes for 4,806 yards and 50 TDs this season, with a 117.2 passer rating. Brady throws the best deep ball in the NFL and is very good at throwing to his left. He is very smart, and very good at recognizing the blitz. Simply put, if he gets time, he wins.
This will be the fourth playoff game between these teams, with New England holding a 2-1 advantage. The teams last met in the playoffs in 2005, a 28-3 Patriots victory. One interesting note about the Jaguars: They allowed 10 more points per game on the road this season than they did at home.