Jaguars vs Patriots

Jaguars vs Patriots: The surprising Jacksonville Jaguars held a double-digit second half lead over the then-defending champion New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

Start Time: Sunday, Sept. 16 at 4:25 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Live Stream: Click here to Watch live stream free in HD

Blake Bortles and company looked like they were on their way to the Super Bowl, and then the Patriots did what they always do. They stormed back into the game by out-executing their opponents, and taking advantage of every single mistake the other team made.

One such mistake the Jags made was not being aggressive enough offensively, while another was letting Brady sit relatively unhurried in the pocket and pick out receivers to whom he could throw the ball. Eventually, he made just enough plays to win, and the Pats got to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Eight months later, New England is again the heavy favorite to play into February. The Jaguars are in that mix as well, and largely for the same reason they wound up there last year: their defense is just that good. Bortles is throwing to a depleted crop of receivers this year compared to last, and while the offensive line is improved, there’s no real expectation that the Jags will field an above-average offense. Instead, it’s all about ball control, grinding the clock, and punishing the opposing offense.

That’s the typical strategy against a Patriots machine that has shown it can out-gun even the best defenses, though, so New England will be well-prepared to handle whatever the Jaguars throw at them in the rematch (4:25 p.m., CBS). This is one of the marquee games of Week 2’s Sunday slate, and it should be exciting to see how it all shakes out.

First things first: we do not yet know if Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette will suit up for this game. Fournette suffered a hamstring injury during the Jaguars’ Week 1 win over the Giants and has practiced on only a limited basis so far this week. He referred to himself Thursday as a game-time decision.

He’s had hamstring issues before and the Jags obviously don’t want this one to linger, so it’s possible they sit him down and wait for Week 3 against the division rival Titans before getting him back onto the field. It’s of course possible they’ll prioritize winning this particular game given its importance in the AFC playoff race, but Fournette has too much long-term import to the Jaguars to rush things. If he’s ready, they should let him suit up; but if he’s not, they shouldn’t force it just because this week’s opponent is the favorite to come out of the AFC.