The Jaguars have reached the AFC Championship game for the first time since 1999 and for the third time since the team's inception in 1995. They've done so by taking down the Bills in a defensive slugfest and by outpacing the Steelers at Heinz Field in below freezing conditions.
Now they head to Foxboro to take on the Patriots. Yeah. You know, that team that has gone to the AFC title game six straight years.
During the Jaguars impressive 2017 season they've amassed 12 wins including their two playoff victories. They've been able to beat teams like Pittsburgh (twice), Baltimore, Seattle, Buffalo, and the Los Angeles Chargers. They've thrived on creating pressure and forcing turnovers. Their offense led the league in rushing during the regular season and is averaging 160 yards per game on the ground in the post season. Blake Bortles has made played with his arms and his legs and has yet to throw an INT in the playoffs.
The Jaguars have the same blue print that many of the team's that have taken down the Patriots in the post season have had. They've got the pass rush that can create pressure without blitzing. They've got the secondary that can make life hard for Brady and his receivers. They've got linebackers that can excel in coverage and in run defense. They've got an offense that, in theory, can play keep away from Brady and the Patriots.
Yet most people around the country, specifically one writer in Boston, are giving the Jaguars zero chance to win this game.
Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe writes:
"Enjoy AFC Championship week, everyone. But pay no attention to the notion of the Jaguars actually winning.
See you at the Mall of America."
Shaughnessy could not be further from the truth.
The Jaguars have the talent and scheme to beat any team left in the tournament. With a QB that rarely turns the ball over and a running game that can pound opponents into submission, the Jaguars can be bullies on offense. They can use the play action and Bortles' athleticism to manufacture yards through the air and keep the Patriots offense off the field.
On the other side of the ball the Jaguars have a unit similar to that of the '15 Broncos, the '12 Ravens, and the Giants of '07 and '11 - all of whom were able to beat the Patriots in the playoffs.
The Jaguars special teams units have been impressive as well. Kicker Josh Lambo has been nearly perfect since joining the Jags midseason. In the playoffs he's made both his FG attempts and has made 7/7 extra points. Punter Brad Nortman has pinned opponents inside the 20 six times so far in the post season.
Did I mention that the Jaguars current EVP of Football Operations is none other than Tom Coughlin, the only man to take down Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl twice?
I'm not coming out and guaranteeing a Jaguars win, but to deny the possibility of the Jaguars beating the Patriots in the AFC Championship is a complete joke.
Stay tuned for more.
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