Month: January 2018

The New England Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars for the AFC Championship on Sunday on CBS.

The Patriots are favored by 7.5 points at home. The Over-Under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 45.

The Patriots have the history, a legendary coach, an MVP quarterback and five Super Bowl titles since the start of the 21st century. The Jaguars, well, they’re new to this spotlight.

He led the league with 4,577 yards passing to go with 32 TDs and eight INTs.

Defensively, the stats are more deceiving. As a team, the Patriots allowed 366 yards per game, fourth-worst in the NFL. But they allowed only 18.5 points per game, fifth-fewest.

After a brutal defensive start to the year, the Pats allowed 17 or fewer points in 11 of their last 13 games and single digits four times. They ended the season on a 12-1 roll.

It’s no surprise White is leaning Over, but he has evaluated all of the circumstances and identified a strong statistical trend that has him confidently backing one side. Find out what it is, and who to back, over at SportsLine.

Burkhead brings an element of versatility to the lineup for the Patriots, whose offense hit another level when Burkhead and Dion Lewis grabbed hold of the backfield reins from Mike Gillislee and James White. Burkhead and Lewis’ presence on the field does less to tip off the opposition to whether the play will be a run or a pass, which allows the Pats to create matchup issues by throwing out of heavy formations or running from spread-out looks.

Burkhead also has the ability to line up in the slot or out wide, taking advantage of linebackers and safeties as a route-runner. He became an important outlet for Tom Brady while healthy, and he also fared very well when operating as a goal-line and short-yardage back. Getting him back on the field will give the Pats yet another weapon that can help them overcome the Jaguars defense, which is one of the best in football.

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Jaguars’ Doug Marrone gets advice from first graders on how to beat Patriots

If Twitter were any indication, the Jaguars have been playing with a first-grader at quarterback all season. Now they’re getting help from actual children.

Leading up to Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the favored Patriots, a first-grade classroom from nearby Bolles School sent Marrone a game plan on how to beat the Patriots. The booklet had a drawing of Blake Bortles on the cover along with the weirdly cocky message: Dear Jags, Want to beat the Patriots? Here’s how……… Advice from your #1 fans in Bolles First Grade!!

Here’s my question: Did the NFL know Triplette was retiring before this game? And did Triplette get a playoff game BECAUSE he was retiring? Triplette had not been assigned a playoff game since the 2013 season, according to Pro-Football-Reference.

It seems extremely coincidental that Triplette would get a playoff game for his final assignment after failing to grade well enough during the previous three seasons to earn one. If you’re a Chiefs fan, you should be upset at the way Andy Reid handled play calling down the stretch, but you should also be asking a lot of questions about the NFL’s decision to give Triplette a playoff game.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama. The Colts are the wild card of the early selections in this draft, and they go secondary to fortify their defense. With Fitzpatick and Malik Hooker, Indianapolis will have two young and dynamic defensive backs to counter Deshaun Watson and Marcus Mariota.

The NFC and AFC Championship Games in the NFL playoffs on Sunday will attract bets from average Joes to professional bettors. The Patriots are 7.5-point favorites over the Jaguars after the line opened at 8.5, and the Vikings are three-point favorites over the Eagles. The Over-Under, or total number of points Vegas think will be scored, is 39 for Vikings-Eagles and 45.5 for Jaguars-Patriots.

With two eye-popping games and NFL odds already on the move, you need to know what SportsLine’s advanced computer model is picking.

With a 181-83 record, SportsLine is beating nearly every expert tracked on NFLPickWatch for the second straight season.

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The presence of Quinn as the GM is a big plus too.

The Patriots casually took care of business in a 35-14 TKO of the Titans Saturday night, to no one’s surprise. To some surprise on Sunday: Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is likely heading to Detroit to take the Lions job once New England’s season wraps up.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Patricia is expected to be the next Lions coach, shunning overtures from the Giants to join his old friend Bob Quinn, the former Patriots personnel man turned Lions GM.

Patricia is making a leap to a franchise where he will feel comfortable working with his boss, having interacted with him in the context of a football front office before. More so than anything, a GM/coach relationship can really derail a franchise when things aren’t going perfectly.

Patricia’s defenses have been quintessential Pats defenses since he took over as defensive coordinator in 2012. They bend but don’t break: every single season with New England, his defenses have ranked in the top-10 in points allowed. Even this year, with the Patriots giving up the 29th most yards in the NFL, they were ranked fifth in points allowed.

The cherry on top was a headbutt by defensive tackle Malik Jackson in the final two minutes when the Jaguars trailed 37-33 with enough timeouts to stop the clock and get the ball back. The penalty on Jackson gave the 49ers a critical first down, and they took advantage with a touchdown a few plays later that put the game on ice.

It came during a game that saw Jackson and cornerback Aaron Colvin get into a shouting match on the sideline, followed by another argument between receiver Keelan Cole and receivers coach Keenan McCardell.

Reviews from Patriots teammates were positive Friday on Tom Brady; in the wake of the hand-injury scare, the QB looks on target heading toward Sunday.

Brady has preferred not to wear gloves during games, but he also hasn’t had to deal with an injury like this.

New England owner Robert Kraft, in an interview that aired on Patriots All Access on WBZ-TV on Saturday night, was asked if his heart skipped a beat when he was first notified of the quarterback’s injury.

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Bay Area newspaper breaks down how NFL owners will vote on Vegas

One thing the Vikings do well is stop the run. The Vikings surrendered just 83.6 yards per game on the ground in 2017, which ranked second in the NFL, and that number is a big reason why the Eagles might have to rely on Foles this week. If Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount can’t find room to run, it’s going to be up to Foles to keep the Eagles offense moving.

In the early game on Saturday, the No. 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles will play host to the No. 6 seed Atlanta Falcons in an NFC matchup. Atlanta, the owner of last year’s No. 1 offense, defeated this year’s No. 1 offense (Rams), and now must travel north to Philadelphia and take on the Carson Wentz-less Eagles. Philly stumbled a bit down the stretch of the season but still has a strong defense and running game, and home-field advantage.

On Saturday night, the No. 1 seed New England Patriots will host the No. 5 seed Tennessee Titans in an AFC matchup. The Pats are heavy favorites, but the Titans are coming off a monster comeback victory over the Chiefs in their first round matchup. Tennessee’s strength is running the ball, which is New England’s exact weakness on defense. The Titans will have to figure out a way to stop Tom Brady, though, if they want to come away with a win.

In the first of Sunday’s two rematches, the No. 2 seed Pittsburgh Steelers will host the No. 3 seed Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags beat up on the Steelers in Pittsburgh earlier this season, forcing Ben Roethlisberger into five interceptions in a 30-9 win.

I don’t know if anything has really changed except the panic of being left out and not getting the money, said Rob Rang, a veteran talent evaluator for NFLDraftScout.com. In today’s world of social media and expectations, young players are more easily convinced to try to take advantage of their perceived draft value.

The NFL began accepting prospects three years out of high school 29 years ago. That league tenet has survived periodic legal challenges for three decades. All of it has created a micro-population of elite athletes with something less than a full grasp of the process.

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