Patriots, Jaguars, Dude, Tom Coughlin, Jags, head coach
Dion Lewis could have a monster game this Sunday. Getty Images

Dude, Tom Coughlin is not the coach

 

Tom Coughlin has had more success against Bill Belichick-coached teams than any head coach in NFL history, but it’s important to remember that Coughlin will not be the one coaching the Jaguars on Sunday. Coughlin is more or less the GM of the team, while the head coach is Doug Marrone. Marrone was head coach of the Bills from 2013-14 and the Patriots had a 3-1 record against him, with the lone loss coming in a 2014 Week 17 game that had no bearing on the Pats postseason position. Marrone has been a part of the Jacksonville staff since 2015 and does not come directly from the Coughlin coaching tree. He was not hired by Coughlin.

 

 

 

Be more like Jimmy

 

For the past several years, Jimmy Garoppolo was told to “be like Tom.” This Sunday, it would be wise for “Tom” to “be like Jimmy.” The former Pats backup and now starter in San Francisco had his signature NFL win against the Jaguars defense last month, putting up 44 points in an 11-point victory. Garoppolo’s quick release in the game drew heaps of praise from Jags defensive end Calais Campbell after the game as Campbell tweeted a video of one of Garoppolo’s throws and wrote, “I don’t know how Jimmy G got this throw off. Much respect!” Of course, Brady is famous for getting the ball out of his hands quickly. Expect the Pats to deal with the Jacksonville pass rush that way.

 

 

Don't dismiss Blake ... seriously

Blake Bortles is one of the worst quarterbacks to ever start in a league championship game, but the big-armed QB should not be entirely dismissed. Bortles has had some exceptional games this season, most recently against Houston (which employs a mock of the Pats’ defense) on Dec. 17, when he completed 21-of-29 passes for 326 yards, three TDs and zero interceptions. He finished the game with an absurd 143.7 passer rating and the Jags won, 45-7. In fact, in three out of four weeks in the month of December (all games the Jags were looking to lock up a division crown), Bortles passed for over 300 yards. He also has not yet thrown an interception this postseason.

 

The formula

The teams that typically give the Pats fits in the playoffs aren’t teams with a Hall of Fame QB. The Pats always played the Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger types well in January. It’s the teams with monster defenses and quarterbacks who can manage the game that do well. Consider that these QBs have beaten Bill Belichick teams in the playoffs: Jake Plummer (Broncos 2005), Mark Sanchez (Jets 2010) and Joe Flacco (Ravens 2009 and 2012). And the Pats last playoff loss came two years ago in Denver in the AFC title game with Manning on his very last legs and playing the role of game manager. It’s important to note that all of the teams above had elite defenses, much like this Jaguars team.

 

Run to the Super Bowl

The Jaguars were the best team in the NFL this season against the pass but finished just 21st in the NFL in rushing defense. In October the Jags lost to the Jets, 23-20 in overtime, as New York back Bilal Powell rushed for a whopping 163 yards on 21 carries. In Jacksonville’s 27-17 loss to the Rams on Oct. 15, Todd Gurley rushed for 116 yards on 23 carries. In their 27-24 loss to the Cardinals on old man Adrian Peterson rushed for 79 yards on 20 carries. It’s clear you can run on the Jags, so expect the Pats to unleash their full arsenal of backs Sunday in Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, James White, Mike Gillislee and Brandon Bolden. Burkhead and Gillislee did not dress for the Titans game, but it’s a good bet we’ll see at least Burkhead on the field Sunday.