The Patriots play their final regular-season game at home in the 2021 season against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.The Patriots can win their 10th game of the season and look to snap a two-game losing streak since coming off of their bye week.
This is the Jaguars’ first trip to New England since the AFC Championship Game after the 2017 season where the Jaguars held a 20-10, fourth-quarter lead but Tom Brady rallied the Patriots to a 24-20 berth in the Super Bowl.
This is an important game for New England as they can clinch a playoff spot with a win and a loss by either the Miami Dolphins or the Las Vegas Raiders. If you’re really an optimist, if Buffalo loses at home against the Atlanta Falcons and the Patriots win, then they would regain control of the division.
The Patriots (9-6) lost to the Buffalo Bills 32-21, the defense couldn’t stop Josh Allen or the Bills offense as they didn’t punt once in the game. The return of Damien Harris was a bright spot however as he rushed for 103 yards on 18 carries with 4 TDs.
The Jaguars (2-13) lost to the New York Jets 26-21 as the Jets rushed for 273 yards, including QB Zach Wilson’s 52-yard touchdown rush. Jaguars rookie QB Trevor Lawrence completed 26-39 passes for 280 yards.
This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS. Andrew Catalon will handle play-by-play duties with James Lofton as the color analyst. Sherree Burruss will work from the sidelines. The game will be broadcast on the radio by 98.5 The Sports Hub. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The games are produced by Marc Cappello.
We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2021 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out. So, here is our look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.
First up is the Patriots offense:
Patriots RBs vs Jaguars Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots’ running game has been a near-constant in 2021 as the team wants to pound the ball, control the tempo and the clock. Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Brandon Bolden have given the team an excellent blend of running and receiving out of the backfield. The team got some great news as Stevenson returned to practice from the COVID list and will probably be available on Sunday.
The Jaguars are struggling to stop the run, which has a lot to do with game situations as they have been behind and teams close out games by running the ball and grinding out the clock. But in the past six games (all losses) the Jaguars are allowing 142.5 yards per game. They’re also allowing more than 27 points in each of those games.
Look for the Patriots’ offensive line to attack the Jags front of former Patriots Malcolm Brown, Dawuane Smoot, and Davon Hamilton to get both Stevenson and Harris going and get them to the second level.
Patriots WRs vs Jaguars Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots’ passing game needs to get back on track. Mac Jones seems to be overthinking things and has been slower on his processing and getting rid of the ball, something he was doing extremely well earlier in the season. Although Nelson Agholor will probably miss this game as he’s still in the concussion protocol, the other pieces will have to step up. Jakobi Meyers has been the one constant all season, but in this one, they’ll have to get more from Kendrick Bourne, tight end Hunter Henry and the backs out of the backfield
The Jaguars’ pass defense is good numbers-wise, allowing 229.7 yards per game which is good for 14th in the league. But once again, those numbers get skewed a bit by the score every week as teams are playing from ahead and not throwing the football late. They can get after opposing QBs as DE/OLB Josh Allen has 5.5 sacks (he’s on the COVID list but may play), while Smoot has 5. Rookie corner Tyson Campbell has played well but this is a secondary that can be passed against.
Look for the Patriots to attack the intermediate part of the field with Meyers and Bourne and use Henry more effectively this week as they open up the middle of the field using play-action passing. Josh McDaniels has said that he needs to get Jonnu Smith more involved…will this be the week?
Next up is the Jacksonville offense:
Jaguars RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots’ run defense has been up and down this year and with Matthew Judon and Ja’Whaun Bentley on the Reserve COVID list, they may be missing two of their best run stuffers from the linebacker position.
The Jaguars’ running game has been hit hard by injuries, they drafted Travis Etienne in the spring but lost him during the summer to a season-ending foot injury. James Robinson has had a very good season, running for 767 yards with a 4.7-yard average with 8 touchdowns. But he injured his Achilles last week. Now they have to go with Dare Ogunbowale and Nathan Cottrell.
But the big issue for Jacksonville right now is the offensive line. Four of their five OL are on the RESERVE COVID list, and it isn’t known who will be available. So, the Patriots’ front seven should be able to handle the Jaguars running game which will include Lawrence who is the team’s second-leading rusher with 301 yards.
Jaguars WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots’ secondary had a rough day against Allen and the Bills. We expect a bounceback week against the Jaguars as they’ll want to right the ship. J.C. Jackson and Myles Bryant in particular will be motivated but the safeties will also look to be much more involved in getting back on track.
The Jaguars have the top pick in the draft in Lawrence who has Marvin Jones and second-year player Laviska Shenault Jr. as his two primary receivers. Lawrence is completing just 58.7 percent of his throws while passing for just 9 TDs against 14 INTs.
Look for the Patriots to dial up the heat against Lawrence, who has suffered from poor pass protection this season as well as mixing up some looks for the rookie QB. With the poor play of the OL and compounded by the COVID outbreak of the OL, this is a matchup the Patriots should dominate on Sunday.
Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots’special teams’ units have played poorly two weeks in a row. This could be a breakout week and a get-back week for them as well. While the Patriots have allowed three blocked punts, the Jaguars have allowed three kick-off returns for TDs this year, including two in back-to-back games. They allow an average of 30.2 yards per kickoff. Worse still, punter Logan Cooke who was averaging 47.3 yards per punt and kicks off was placed on IR.
Next up, who wins and why…
This is a game that the Patriots should win and must win if they want to get to the post-season. The Jaguars are 2-13 and have lost seven in a row. They are in the midst of yet another complete rebuild and with an interim coach, the team is decimated by COVID right now.
Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:
Run The Ball Setting Up Play Action – The Patriots are one of the most physical teams upfront and this week is a game that they have to assert their will from the beginning and run the ball down Jacksonville’s throats early and often. If they can do that with Harris and Stevenson, it will open up play action and get some chunk plays in the passing game.
Bring Pressure on Lawrence – The Patriots under Bill Belichick have had an excellent record against rookie QBs and 1st-year head coaches. Lawrence’s protection has been poor all season and now 4/5ths of his offensive line could be missing. There is no excuse for them not to bring the heat on the rookie and force him into making mistakes.
A Quick Start For a Change – The Patriots have slept walked through the first half of the past two weeks. That has to stop now. They need to start early and put the overmatched Jaguars in the rearview mirror by halftime.
This should be… (should be) well under control by halftime. Look for the running game to have a big game and the defense to force a couple of turnovers. Patriots 31-10
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Bill Belichick Brandon Bolden Buffalo Bills Damien Harris Dont'a Hightower Jacksonville Jaguars Kendrick Bourne Kyle Van Noy Laviska Shenault Jr. Mac Jones Marvin Jones Myles Jack New England Patriots Patriots Rhamondre Stevenson Trevor Lawrence