New England Patriots vs Jacksonville Jaguars: AFC Championship Game preview and prediction

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13: Tom Brady (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13: Tom Brady (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
FOXBOROUGH, MA – JANUARY 13: Dion Lewis #33 of the New England Patriots carries the ball in the second quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Dion Lewis

Dion Lewis has been the lead running back in New England down the stretch. Lewis ended the 2017 regular season with 896 yards rushing, a 5.0 yards per attempt average and 32 receptions for 214 yards. He led the Patriots with six rushing touchdowns and had three of the nine touchdown receptions by the running backs.

Against the Titans, Lewis was again the lead back, finishing with 62 yards and 4.1 yards per rush average as New England rushed for 101 yards. Lewis did most of his damage in the passing game as he caught nine of 10 targets for 79 yards receiving. He led the Patriots with 141 total yards of offense.

Jacksonville has quick and powerful defensive linemen Malik Jackson and Marcell Dareus and a pair of speedy linebackers making it seem as if it would be difficult to run on the Jaguars. However, gap control is poor as the front seven is often penetrating and out of position leading to gaping cut-back holes for opposing running backs. The Jaguars were 21st in the league having allowed 1,860 yards rushing and 4.3 yards per rush.

Dion Lewis is going to be vital to the New England offense on Sunday in both the running game and in the passing game against the Jaguars. He could be a key weapon for the Patriots to extend drives by putting the team into third-and-manageable spots.