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: Marquis Flowers (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Marquis Flowers

The Jaguars’ offense runs through running back Leonard Fournette. The rookie from LSU rushed for 109 yards on 25 carries for the Jaguars against the Steelers but was most effective in the first half.

Before being injured midway through the second quarter, he had rushed for 82 yards on just 12 carries and two touchdowns. Against Tennessee, linebacker Marquis Flowers was a part of a New England defense which limited running back Derrick Henry to just 28 yards on 12 carries.

The New England rush defense was a weakness during the regular season as they allowed 1,836 yards rushing (20th in the NFL). They are going against a Jaguars offense which was the top rushing attack in the NFL pounding out 2,262 yards.

Marquis Flowers has played most of the snaps at inside linebacker at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs. Flowers has replaced Elandon Roberts inside next to a now healthy Kyle Van Noy. Unlike Roberts, Flowers has become a vital cog in the Patriots’ defense.

Flowers is not just responsible for slowing Fournette. In the passing game, he served as the “spy” on the quarterback to prevent the quarterback from scrambling. He was in this role against Tennessee while in man-coverage and against the Bills and Jets in the last two weeks of the regular season.

Flowers has excellent speed and is a great tackler. He has been used as a blitzer with great effectiveness as well since earning a role in the defense. If Flowers can contain Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles from scrambling and play a key role in slowing Fournette, he will be a key ingredient in the Patriots’ recipe for success.