Jaguars vs. Patriots Prediction
Will the Jacksonville Jaguars stay within the point spread today when they visit the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game? Or will New England roll?
Who Oddsmakers Like: New England. According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Patriots are 7.5-point home favorites to beat the Jaguars, who opened as 8.5-point underdogs. The total, meanwhile, sits at 45.5 points after hitting the board at 47.
Who the Public Likes: New England. As of Sunday morning, 64% of the betting tickets and 65% of the money wagered online for this game is on the Patriots. The under is also receiving 52% of the betting tickets and 81% of the money.
Who the Trends Like: New England. The Jaguars are just 1-5 against the spread in their last six trips to New England and are 2-5 at the betting window in their last seven games versus the Patriots overall. The home team, meanwhile, has covered in six of the last eight games in this series.
Who We Like: Jacksonville. I'm siding with defense, although the Patriots were certainly great defensively a week ago.
Jacksonville was first in defensive points allowed this season, first in yards allowed per drive and first in first downs allowed per game. The Jags also finished second in scoring defense this season and while Tom Brady is 3-0 in his postseason career going against top-defenses, he's also dealing with a hand injury that reportedly required stitches earlier in the week. How accurate he's going to be is a mystery and I think oddsmakers were concerned enough to drop the spread from 9.5 all the way down to 7.5 because of the situation.
Let's forget about the injury for second: The Jags are equipped to contain a healthy Brady, too. They pressured opposing quarterbacks 35.7 percent of the time this season when they didn't blitz. That's the fifth-best rate in the NFL. They can put pressure on quarterbacks without blitzing and that's a recipe for success against the Patriots. They also have athletic linebackers that can contain Dion Lewis and the Pats' screen game and the cornerbacks to play man-to-man on the outside. (Brady picks apart zone defenses.)
Okay, so what about Blake Bortles. How concerning is he when it comes to betting the Jags today? Very, although if Jacksonville can get an early lead then Bortles will be fine. He owns a 103.0 QB rating when playing with a lead and a 67.0 QB rating when he's trailing. Simply put, he's a more confident signal-caller when his team gets him a lead. Last week was an example of that.
This is a young, confident Jaguars team that won't be intimidated today by the situation or the environment. I still like the Pats to win but I could see this game coming down to one final possession in the fourth quarter.
NFL CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY PREDICTIONS: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS +7.5