Jaguars @ Patriots - Final Playoff Preview

What to look for in the divisional playoff between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New England Patriots

Saturday, January 12, 2008, 8:00 p.m.

Foxboro, Massachusetts

Kickoff Temperature: 33 degrees, 10% chance of precipitation

Line: Patriots by 13

Records: Jaguars 12-5, second place in the AFC South; Patriots 16-0, first place in the AFC East.

Series notes: Patriots lead all-time series 6-1, with the last meeting a 24-21 Patriots victory in Jacksonville on 12/24/06. These teams have met three times in the postseason with New England winning two of the three meetings including a 2005 blowout victory in Foxboro, 28-3.

Five most important things for the Jaguars:

    1. Win the turnover battle. It's simple and it's important, the Jaguars must force turnovers against this great opponent and take care of the ball themselves. An even turnover margin will not win the game for the Jaguars.

    2. The best defense is a time monopolizing offense. The Jaguars must return to their 10, 12, and 14 play types of drives that they found success with throughout the season. The more time the Jaguars own the football, the less time Tom Brady has to tear apart the Jaguars secondary.

    3. 7's, not 3's. If the Jaguars are going to pull the monumental upset, they are going to need to score touchdowns in the red zone. Field goals just won't get it done.

    4. Play perfect special teams. Special teams is the only phase of the game that the Patriots don't have a decided advantage in. The Jaguars must be dominant in the area of special teams–kicking, punting, coverage, and returns.

    5. Take chances. You're playing a team that has more talent and is better across the board. The Jaguars must go for some fourth downs, try some onside kicks, and pull out any types of trick plays they have. There's nothing to lose, you're not expected to win.

What to look for:

    1. Look for some early shotgun and a lot of passing by New England. The Jaguars showed their weakness with pass defense last week, and expect the Patriots to throw the ball early and often to exploit it.

    2. Look for David Garrard to throw for over 250 yards. The Pats will sell out to stop the run and force the game into the hands of Garrard. Garrard will need to make plays in the passing game to be effective.

    3. Look for a solid game by the Jaguars wide receivers. The Jaguars receivers were terrible in their last playoff game in New England, and they will come to play this time around.

    4. Look for a big game by Moss and Welker. The Jaguars really don't have the weapons to shut both players down and I believe both will find the end zone Saturday night.

    5. Look for at least one trick play by the Jaguars. If they are going to do the "impossible," they're going to need to get a little gimmicky. Don't be surprised if you see wide receiver options, flea flickers, or untimely onside kicks by the visitors.

Game Prediction: The Jaguars will enter Saturday's game with absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. There's a reason for that, the Jaguars just aren't as talented as the Patriots, and they don't match up very well at all. Look for the visitors to keep it respectable for most of the game before bowing out.

Final score: Patriots 41, Jaguars 24.


Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.



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