AFC Championship Betting Preview — Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots

AFC Championship Betting Preview — Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots 
Leave it to the New England Patriots to supply some drama, whether willingly or not, to any occasion. And on the eve of their seventh consecutive AFC title game, which can get them to the Super Bowl again, they have had to answer questions about the availability of their quarterback as they prepare to face the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game that is set to begun at 3:05 PM ET at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. If you are a BetAnySports customer, you can get reduced juice, which offers better value against the football betting odds, and if you want to challenge those odds in real-time, you’ll have the opportunity to do just that through Live Betting Ultra.
This week in practice, Tom Brady hit his hand on the helmet of running back Rex Burkhead and injured it somehow. There was a lot of speculation about the nature of the injury, and as it turned out, there was no ligament damage, but some cuts on the hand that required stitches. How much that will affect him is anybody’s guess, but there have been more than a few people now questioning the wisdom of trading backup Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco.
The Pats, who had home field advantage throughout the AFC,. have to figure out a way to navigate the Jacksonville defense, which was first in the NFL in yards and points allowed this season. Fortunately, New England has gained more yards and scored more points on a per-drive basis than anyone in the NFL. There isn’t a wide receiver on the roster that is, say, the equal of Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, who the Jags encountered last week, but Brady has a well-rounded group at his disposal, which includes deep threats like Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan, along with possession receivers like Danny Amendola, running back Dion Lewis and James White, and of course, the All-World tight end, Rob Gronkowski. Outlets abound, and when you have a lot of different people to go to, that’s always a great weapon against a top-notch defense. Let’s also consider that Ben Roethlisberger had 462 yards passing against the Jags last week.
In the AFC Championship betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Patriots are the favorites:
New England Patriots  -8
Jacksonville Jaguars  +8
Over 46.5 points  -110
Under 46.5 points  -110
There are a couple of keys to victory for the Jaguars – you would figure two of the things they have to do are to keep constant pressure on Brady, and get well-established with the running game. Jacksonville offers elite-level performance in both cases. The Jaguars were second in the league in sacks with 54 in the regular season, and of course the objective is not just to get around the edges on him, but also to get a push up the middle so that Brady can’t step up in the pocket. J-Ville led the league in rushing yards, and that means that the Pats have to offer better resistance than they have on a regular basis, as they yielded 4.7 yards per carry.
But there has been quite a turnaround in the Pats’ defense. After surrendering 32 ppg over their first four games, they have only allowed 14 ppg since. There is not bigger indicator of the mantra of “bend but don’t break” than their defensive drive stats; the Pats have given up more yards per drive than anybody, but with regard to points allowed per drive, they are sixth best. Can Jacksonville crack that somehow? That’s a question for BetAnySports patrons to ponder.
Well, the Jags were damn good when they go to the red zone; they were, in fact, second best in red zone touchdown percentage. It would be interesting to see what would happen if the Patriots stacked the box to slow down Leonard Fournette and forced Blake Bortles to make more plays with his arm. It’s not that Bortles can get it down the field; he has a big-enough gun. But when he takes more chances, he makes more mistakes; although he has not thrown an INT in the two playoff games, he only has 302 total passing yards. Having composure is one thing; trading points with New England is quite another. And we’re not confident that the Jaguars are going to be able to do that. Fournette had to be taken out of the game with an ankle injury last week; when he returned, he averaged 2.3 yards a carry. The Pats need to stop him on first down – that makes it more difficult for Bortles, who has averaged only 3.9 yards an attempt when he’s facing six or more pass rushers.
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