Patriots clinch division

The New England Patriots handily defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 35 – 7 and have clinched the AFC East. They currently hold the third seed in the AFC playoff brackets despite Cincinnati winning today due to the strength-of-schedule tie-breaker. The offense exploded to 28 first half points and then controlled the ball the second half to seal the victory. While the offense only scored one touchdown in the second half, they were able to move the ball and eat up clock to put away the game. Tom Brady finished 23/26 for 267 yards and 4 touchdowns, a nearly perfect day. The defense remained strong and only allowed one touchdown. Jacksonville opened the second half with the football and drove down inside the 10 yard line when David Garrard was intercepted by Shawn Springs. The defense, while only recording 2 sacks, was in Garrard’s face all day which forced bad throws and miscues. Maurice Jones-Drew was held to only 63 yards on 18 carries  (3.5 avg.), which is pretty impressive considering that the Patriots were without nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

The defense seems to be rallying to get more pressure these last few games, though I do wonder how much of that is due to playing weaker offensive lines. The 56 formation was used again this game, so this defense may be something teams will have to prepare for this postseason. Now, whether the Patriots choose to use next week as sort of a “bye week” remains to be seen depending on how the rest of today’s games shake out. Next week is meaningless unless the Patriots decide they want the 3-seed instead of the 4-seed. More analysis to come tomorrow as the playoff picture begins to get a little clearer…

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