Last week’s Patriots’ game with the San Francisco 49ers featured many twists and turns. The Pats found themselves down 31-3 at the beginning of the third quarter. They rallied late, but eventually fell short 41-34 and lost control of their own destiny for a first round bye. The only way that could happen now is with two wins and a Denver Broncos’ loss to either the Browns or the Chiefs. Tom Brady is coming off of a week where he had to throw the ball 65 times and the Patriots will still not have Rob Gronkowski this week who is still out with that forearm injury.
This week, the Patriots will load up the sleigh and travel down south to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Right now, the Jags are tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the worst record in the NFL. For head coach Mike Mularkey, he has dealt with numerous injuries in his first year at the helm. Some of those injuries include quarterback Blaine Gabbert and all-pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew. That being said, I agree with coach Belichick that there are still some good things about the Jags that the Pats have to be concerned with. This is not the time for a letdown as the team tries to re-gain momentum for another playoff run.
Here are my Holiday Themed Keys for this weekend’s game:
The “Short” Misfits: One of my favorite holiday specials is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer where Rudolph and Hermie the Elf run away with Yukon Cornelius to the Island of Misfit Toys. I consider Cecil Shorts to be the Rudolph of this group. We all thought that the leading reindeer for this receiving sleigh will be Justin Blackmon. But, the leading reindeer is a second year wide receiver from Mount Union college. Yes, Rudolph is Cecil Shorts. He has only started eight games this year, but he already has 925 yards and seven touchdowns, which leads the team. Blackmon can be a threat, but Shorts is the guy I am watching if I am the Patriots’ secondary, especially when he goes long down the field.
As for the Patriots, their guy to watch is Danny “The Elf” Woodhead. No, Woodhead does not want to be a dentist, but he showed a lot of Christmas spirit in the 2nd half of the 49ers game last week. With Stevan Ridley’s fumble issues, look for Woodhead to get some more reps this week. I wouldn’t totally bench Ridley because you need his confidence when the playoff comes around.
Don’t Sip Too Much “Henne”sy: At your Christmas dinner, you will likely sit down and have some wine or a nice cognac with your meal. For the Patriots, the secondary better be sobering up when they face Jacksonville’s new quarterback Chad Henne. The Patriots have had some past history with Henne that isn’t exactly positive. Last year, on Monday night football, the former Michigan QB threw for 416 yards and two touchdowns while also running for a touchdown. Without MJD or Rishad Jennings at running back, Jacksonville has had to rely on Montell Owens for a running game. The Patriots will just have to make sure that their pass defense is on par this week after giving up four touchdowns to Colin Kaepernick last week.
Polar Bear Posluszny: The North Pole is usually filled with all the polar bears and reindeer, but one vicious polar bear may have escaped down to warm Jacksonville. Does Bill Belichick have a plan to tame the linebacker? Paul Posluszny has been the best player on Jacksonville’s defense in tackles and interceptions. The problem for the Jaguars is they only have ten interceptions as a team and in five career game vs. JAX, Tom Brady has 13 touchdowns to zero interceptions! If the Jags hang around in this game, Posluszny will be the one getting to Brady and forcing some huge turnovers.
This game has had all the makings of a blowout on paper. The Jaguars looked more like they are trying to go for the number one pick after their 24-3 blowout loss to the Miami Dolphins. Even after throwing 65 passes, Brady will still be angry and look to put up 40+ points on this team. I would pick an avalanche like blowout, but I am the Grinch when it comes to picking Patriots’ blowouts. So, for this sake, Pats should win by 20+, but instead, they will win by a touchdown.
PATRIOTS 34 JAGUARS 27