Week 16 Prediction: New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars

After a disappointing loss to the San Francisco 49ers last week, the Patriots are likely out of bye week contention for the playoffs. However, they can still fight for the #3 seed, and there’s no better team to do it against than the Jacksonville Jaguars. This game favors the Patriots, and the matchups show why.

1. The New England receivers vs the Jacksonville defensive backs

When you look at Jacksonville’s defensive backs, none of them really stand out. I’ve liked Dwight Lowery for a long time, but he’s questionable for the game and I don’t anticipate him playing. Derek Cox is usually quite good, but certainly beatable. Aaron Ross might miss the game, and he doesn’t exactly give me nightmares. Dawan Landry isn’t anything special and Chris Prosinski still has much to learn.

I have yet to see a defense that can effectively contain Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez for four quarters. I would like to see Michael Hoomanawanui involved, and maybe even Kamar Aiken (if he’s activated, which is unlikely).

Edge: New England

2. The New England offensive line vs the Jacksonville defensive line

The Jacksonville defensive line is lackluster. They just traded for Jason Babin, who is good but aging. C.J. Mosley is playing at a high level but is losing snaps to Terrence Knighton and the vastly inferior Tyson Alualu. Jeremy Mincey was good last year, but has yet to accomplish anything this year.

The Patriots line actually looked fantastic against the 49ers (with the usual exception of Dan Connolly, who really should be benched in favor of Donald Thomas). I don’t expect them to have any trouble with this defensive line.

Edge: New England

3. The New England runningbacks vs the Jacksonville linebackers

Paul Posluszny was great in Buffalo, but he’s really been disappointing in Jacksonville. Even though he’s the leader of the defense, it seems like most of his tackles are after the guy has already run by him for a first down. Russell Allen has never been anyone to write home, and they’re starting Julian Stanford as the other outside linebacker – on purpose.

Stevan Ridley had a rough game with his two fumbles, and Belichick will be sure to remember that. However, it’s important to get Ridley his confidence back and give him carries. On the other hand, Brandon Bolden is back and I’d like to see him make up for lost time.

Edge: New England

4. The New England defensive backs vs the Jacksonville wide receivers

Justin Blackmon was the receiver they went for in the draft to give themselves another weapon, but Cecil Shorts III is comfy and easy to wear. They’re both deep threats and the safeties must be on the lookout. Marcedes Lewis is quietly having a decent year and must be monitored at all times.

I have a lot more confidence in the New England secondary. Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib and Devin McCourty are all playing at a high level, and even Kyle Arrington has stepped up wonderfully in the slot. However, they’re banged up, and now might be the game to rest them. I’d love to see more playing time out of Tavon Wilson and Pat Chung.

Edge: New England

5. The New England defensive line vs the Jacksonville offensive line

It’s all about Eugene Monroe. He’s a good left tackle, and that’s really about it. Everyone else on that offensive line is garbage and absolutely must be taken advantage of. I can find no nicer way to put this.

Chandler Jones may well be held without a sack again, and I know that’s disappointing, but he’s really exceeded already-high expectations for this year, so getting blanked by a good left tackle won’t concern me. That being said, he cannot get complacent. I expect a lot of sacks from the interior linemen.

Edge: New England

6. The New England linebackers vs the Jacksonville runningbacks

I think it’s pretty well established that the Jacksonville running game is over without Maurice Jones-Drew. Rashad Jennings is gone too, so they’re relying on Montell Owens and Richard Murphy. It’s kind of sad, really.

The New England linebackers are unquestionably some of the best in the league against the run. Unfortunately, they have a ghastly tendency to get burned in the passing game. With a quarterback like Chad Henne, hopefully they won’t have to contend with that too much.

Edge: New England

This could possibly be a trap game, as there is sparse talent on Jacksonville’s roster, but I don’t think they’ll be able to put it together come gametime. The worst case scenario is a shoot-out occurs, and I’ll take Tom Brady vs Chad Henne in a shootout every time.

New England W, Jacksonville L

You can follow Christopher Field on Twitter @ChrisDField.

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Tags: Jacksonville Jaguars New England Patriots

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