The Jaguars defeated Pittsburgh Steelers, and they now have a date with the Patriots in the AFC Championship. Here are odds from OddsShark released before today’s game.
After the Jags dominated the Steelers but gave up a ton of points late, the spread moved slightly when it officially opened.
The magic continues for Jacksonville, who present a tough matchup for the Patriots. Jacksonville could play an aggressive man coverage scheme against Tom Brady, and put enough pressure on him to keep the game close.
Of course, it’s no surprise the Patriots are favored by a full score. Their gameplan would be obvious: force Blake Bortles to throw the Jaguars to the Super Bowl.
It’s also worth noting that for all their offensive talent, the Steelers were only 1.5 points better than the Jaguars. The Patriots are in their seventh straight AFC Championship game, and are 3-3 during that stretch despite having won two of the last three.
Jaguars vs. Patriots Matchup Breakdown
The Jaguars reached this game on the back of Leonard Fournette. If they have any aspirations of beating New England and reaching their first Super Bowl in franchise history, they will not deviate from that strategy.
Of course, any injury to Fournette would throw the matchup completely out of whack. The spread could easily increase to double-digits. Fournette barreled through the Steelers early, but went down with an ankle injury in the first half. Fournette has been hobbled by ankle issues throughout his career, and even though he came back and scored in the second half, the ankle will be a topic of conversation.
The Patriots faced a similar situation against the Titans, and did a great job bottling up Derrick Henry. He finished with 12 carries for 28 yards in the Divisional Playoff meeting, as the Titans were blown out by the Patriots 35-14. The Patriots also contain mobile quarterbacks, which has emerged as Blake Bortles favorite weapon in the playoffs. They regularly stifle Tyrod Taylor and the Bills, and held Marcus Mariota in check for most of the evening. Since getting gashed by the Dolphins on Monday Night Football, the Patriots defense has only allowed one 100-yard rusher (Bell) in four games.
The real difference maker there is the Titans defense. The Jaguars are much better in that aspect, and it would be truly amazing if Tom Brady hung five touchdowns on that unit. The Jaguars have been slightly vulnerable to tight ends this year, and the Patriots will feed Rob Gronkowski with another Super Bowl ticket on the line.
The Jaguars are having an incredible season, but they still dropped some questionable games this season and benefitted from an easy schedule. They’ve technically lost two of their last three entering Sunday, including allowing 44 points to the 49ers. The Patriots could be watching some Jimmy Garoppolo this week, figuring out how to carve up this Jaguars defense.