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Jaguars Patriots: Jags named Sacksonville for a reason

The Jaguars defense should pose significant problems for the Pats
Jaguars, Patriots, Jags, Sacksonville
Marcell Dareus celebrates after sacking Ben Roethlisberger this past Sunday. Getty Images

That the New England Patriots are in the AFC Championship is not much of a surprise.

 

That the Jacksonville Jaguars are as well? OK, that's a surprise.

 

But as the NFL season comes down to four remaining teams, the Jaguars are by far the least likely of the bunch to make it this far, with the Eagles and Vikings representing the NFC.

 

Consider that prior to this season, the Jaguars had finished 5th-worst or lower in every season since 2011.

 

Now, led on offense by quarterback Blake Bortles - who almost lost his job prior to this season - and star rookie running back Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars are not to be taken lightly.

 

Just ask the Steelers, who couldn't wait to head to New England for the AFC Championship Game . . . now they'll have to wait another year.

 

But despite a bit of a Bortles resurgence and Fournette rookie emergence, it's been the Jaguars defense that has played lights out and gotten them to where they are today (though the 45-42 win over the Steelers might not back that up).

 

Nicknamed "Sacksonville", the Jaguars' extremely dangerous defense has been a storyline all season. They were without a doubt the AFC's best defense, leading the conference in total yards allowed per game (286.1), pass yards allowed per game (169.9), and points allowed per game (16.8).

 

They allowed the lowest completion percentage for opposing quarterbacks (56.8), the lowest opposing quarterback rating (68.5), finished second in sacks (55), second in interceptions (21), and second in forced fumbles (17) - five of which were returned for touchdowns. The Jags also scooped and scored one against the Steelers on Sunday.

 

So what does all of this mean? 

 

The people at TB12 Headquarters will need to be working overtime this week to make sure Brady can withstand what will be a full-on attack by the Jaguars defense.

 

So that means throw on extra layer of recovery sleepwear. Maybe it's double the avocado in his ice cream, sprinkled with Himalayan pink salt. Do not let him within 10 yards of a nightshade vegetable, either.

 

Historically speaking, it's been opposing defenses that can pressure Brady and throw off his timing that have had success against the Patriots. Both the Broncos and the Giants have won big games against an overwhelmed Patriots offensive line and hurried Brady.

 

The Titans were not able to get to Brady for a single sack on any of his 13 pressured dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.

 

That’s highly unlikely to be the case this weekend.

 

But while the Jaguars will most likely bring that pressure, the Steelers proved that you could be successful against it. According to Pro Football Focus, Ben Roethlisberger was pressured on 30.6-percent of his dropbacks, but threw for three touchdowns and a 120.6 passer rating on those plays. 

 

Big Ben connected on six of eight deep balls (over 20 yards) for 190 yards and four touchdowns. Of course, it helps when you’re throwing to Antonio Brown.

 

New England will look to establish the run next week as well, with Jacksonville’s run defense a little bit more down to earth over the course of a season than its pass defense.

 

The Jags allowed 116.3 rushing yards per game this season (10th in the AFC), so players like Dion Lewis and James White could be used more out of the backfield, while Rex Burkhead reportedly is expected to return.