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Patriots – Jaguars Week 16 Preview

December 22nd, 2012 at 8:18 PM
By Spencer Frenchman

The Patriots look to bounce back after losing a tough game in San Francisco last week.  

That should not be a problem against the 2-11 Jaguars, who rank near the bottom of the NFL in almost every major statistical category.  They are 31st in points per game with 15.6 and 29th defensively, giving up 27.4 points and 394.1 yards per game.  Only the New Orleans Saints have given up more yards per game this year.

Brady and the offense should have a field day against the porous Jacksonville defense.  They do play the pass a bit better than the run as they rank last in the league with 148.1 yards allowed per game.  Stevan Ridley will be looking for a bounce back game after two straight weeks with fumbles.  Ridley has struggled with ball security throughout his short career.  He was benched in the playoffs last season after he fumbled in the 45-10 blowout of the Denver Broncos.  This season he has four fumbles, two lost, but two of these fumbles came in the past two weeks at key spots in important games against the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers. 

"No one is harder on myself than me.  Nobody is more upset when I fumble than Stevan is," Ridley said.  "For me I just have to keep working.  There is a lot of football left to be played."

One reason for Jacksonville's offensive woes has been the loss of their best player, all pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew.  Jones-Drew has been out since week seven with a foot injury.  The Jaguars will be without him again this week as well as backup Rashad Jennings, who is out with a concussion.  Montell Owens who has only 46 career rushing attempts will take most of the snaps in the Jaguars backfield.

The Jaguars do have some weapons in the passing game.  On the outside Cecil Shorts has been a pleasant surprise and is poised to pass 1000 receiving yards in just his second season.  Justin Blackman is also a solid receiver, and TE Marcedes Lewis plays a big role in the Jaguars passing attack.  The Patriots have been vulnerable to tight end receiving threats this season. 

One key matchup will be DE Jason Babin v. T Sebastian Vollmer.  Babin, one year removed from an 18 sack campaign in Philadelphia, is not having quite the same season he had last year but is still a very good defensive lineman, who can put pressure on the quarterback.

Prediction: Patriots 42 – Jaguars 16.  The Patriots destroy the Jaguars in every phase of the game and Brandon Lloyd builds on his excellent performance last week, when he hauled in ten catches for 190 yards.

A win will keep the Patriots slim chances of a first round bye alive. 

Tags: Brandon Lloyd, cecil shorts, Defense, Football, Jacksonville, jaguars, Jason Babin, Maurice Jones-Drew, New England, New England Patriots, NFL, rashad jennings, Sebastian Vollmer, Stevan Ridley, tight end

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