Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gameday Deciding Factors: Patriots at Jaguars


After being brought back down to Earth last week at the hands of the San Fransisco 49ers, the New England Patriots (10-4) head into Jacksonville this weekend, where a win has been been pretty easy to come by.

The two-win Jaguars have struggled against the division as well as on the scoreboard, and they will now face a Patriots offense that's put up more than 500 points already this season. New England will be looking to gain some ground in the AFC standings, as it currently sits third behind Denver and Houston in the hunt for home field advantage in the playoffs. (photo: Mark Kortum, Flickr)

The talented Mr. Ridley. Running back Stevan Ridley is quietly putting together a season for the Patriots' record books. He is up over 1,100 yards for the season, currently 11th on the team's all-time list. Two more strong games could put him the top five, and a game against Jacksonville is a good place to start. The Jags are currently touting the league's worst rush defense, giving up 148 yards a game.

Third down. Despite netting more than 500 yards last week against San Fransisco, the Patriots couldn't get the yards when it counted — on third down. The offense converted only 13 percent of its third down opportunities last week when it has been averaging close to 50 percent. Lucky for them Jacksonville's defense has been allowing teams to convert 42 percent of their third downs.

AFC East troubles. Jacksonville has gotten a heavy dose of the AFC East of late, and it hasn't been very enjoyable. The team is 0-3 against the division so far, having played the three other teams back-to-back the past three weeks. In those three loses, the defense has allowed 25 points per game, while the offense has only mustered an average of 10. That's not a good sign as they prepare for a team putting up an average of 36 points.

More Smith. Linebacker Daryl Smith, the Jaguars' all-time leading tackler, has been out all season with a groin problem, but he was activated from IR prior to Sunday and is slated to start. This could be a good morale boost for a team in desperate need of a lift.
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