To win, the Jaguars must build the occasional gamble into their gameplan. If both teams play conservatively, the Jaguars must be certain they would lose. Their most obvious weakness is in their defensive line, where they have two starters out and one more weakened but ready to play. Given these limitations, they will likely have to bring help in rushing Brady. If they bring in linebackers, Brady's proven his ability to read around it and find the likes of Welker and Faulk in the middle of the field. If they bring a rush from the defensive backfield, they risk losing big plays—something they're likely counting on. Bottom line however they gamble—and they must—they're likely to feel like they're playing against the house.
15 and 60
The Patriots have enjoyed entering halftime with substantial leads all season. Last season too. Most painfully perhaps against the Colts in January. That loss has inspired Belichick and the team to adopt a "sixty minute" philosophy that ensures that they keep the accelerator down throughout the game and make sure no one starts playing with an empty tank.
The Jaguars can run with three players: their talented RBs or Gerrard himself, who is a proven scrambler, usually preferring to tuck the ball and pick up 10 yards than throw on the run. Their liability is most acute in situations where they're playing from behind. They'll have difficulty moving the ball and scoring quickly if most of their plays are runs. They'll simply run out of time.
The way I'm thinking of this is that each team has a different clock. The Jaguars need to control the clock and keep it short. They'd like the game to be fifteen minutes long. The Pats would like to extend the game to 60 minutes to maximize their possessions and scoring opportunities. If the Jags haven't demonstrated an ability to do this (eg. a lead and ball-control) by the end of the first quarter, it's looks very good for the Patriots.
So the Pats would like to have more possessions. What about stopping the Jaguars on defense?
Look for Belichick to bring speed to the run defense. One approach might be to start the game in a 4-3 (unlike the usual 3-4) since it might be better to set the agenda for the Jag's twin RBs by pushing around the offensive line rather than chasing them down with slower linebackers. They might bring in speedier tacklers from the backfield to hold the "edge" on outside running plays.
Good execution on the offense and a solid performance by the Pat's D—which has proven ability to reduce an opponent's best ability and "TCB." Let's see if Tedy can get his interception too!
Posted January 9, 2008.