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Wright On

Florida Times-Union reporter Michael C. Wright covers the ins and outs of the Jacksonville Jaguars. In this blog, he'll share behind-the-scenes anecdotes not published within the pages of the T-U, in addition to offering up incessant ramblings about nothing such as road trips, crummy hotels and not-so-delicious press box food. Perhaps he'll even delve into serious discussions about NFL issues. So ask questions, participate in conversations, or just learn more about the Jags.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Predictions anyone?

Is there anybody out there bold enough to predict a winner for Saturday's clash between the Jags and the Patriots?

Looking over the matchups, I've got an idea of where I'm leaning (which I won't disclose). But I'm curious to know what you guys think.

Also, here are a couple of tidbits headed into the week:

On Saturday, January 12, the Jaguars playoff game at New England will be televised live from the Bud Zone at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium with doors opening at 4 p.m. There will be free admission and free parking. In addition to the Bud Zone, seating in the south end of the stadium will be open and the game will be shown on the scoreboards.

Inside the Bud Zone, there will be $2 draft beers (gotta love that) and food specials. The stadium will also open more seating, concessions and restrooms for Saturday's event because of the overwhelming response from last week's game.

The Jaguars booster club will hold an away-game sendoff on Friday from 10 a.m. to Noon at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium for fans to cheer on the team as they depart for New England. The public is encouraged to attend.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the Jags in this one. This game is about play-making now.

Camp offense last week was a sign the Jaguars have something special for 16-0.

January 8, 2008 at 1:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Patriots passing game will unfortunately be too much. Nobody on the Jaguars matches up well in terms of speed with Wes Welker in the slot. If the weather isn't a factor, Pats by 10.
However, like the Jags by a touchdown in this one if the weather is snowy/windy. There's no question our running game can dominate such a game

January 8, 2008 at 1:55 AM  
Blogger Michael C. Wright said...

But the $10,000 question - in my mind - is whether the Jags can get that running game going. You better believe that Pats coach Bill Belichick has studied the Jags-Steelers tape extensively to see how the Steelers stopped Jacksonville.

Like the Jaguars, I think New England can be had in the slot, too. Rodney Harrison is a liability in coverage. If the Jags can get him to play in the box to stop the run, New England will have trouble disguising its coverages. That will open up a soft spot in the slot.

Defensively, the Jaguars have to find a way to put some heat on Tom Brady. If they sit back in coverage, Brady will pick them apart.

New England isn't a good matchup for the Jaguars. But the Jags have done an excellent job this season of game planning teams. So basically, the coaches are gonna have to earn their money in this one.

January 8, 2008 at 8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we say in New England "Fogget aboud it, who's next". Patriots by 14+

January 8, 2008 at 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are the Jags ready to play again next week?
After getting their beauty rest last week, I think the Patriots will have to get used to it because they're staying home.
The Jag/Steelers game was just warm-up. The Jags are as good as they'll ever be. Garrard, Taylor and Jones-Drew are our three lucky sevens in a row.
Jags up by 8 (2 pt conversion to seal the deal)...

January 8, 2008 at 7:01 PM  
Anonymous Garry said...

The Jaguars were unable to stop Peyton Manning or Ben Rothlisberger. What makes anyone think they will stop Tom Brady who has a far better arsenal of receivers than the Jaguars have seen any time this year?

Next to Vince Young, David Garrard may be the most tentative quarterback I have seen in a while in the game against the Steelers. Were it not for Rothlisberger's follies, some questionable coaching decisions, and some very poor play calling, the Jaguars would be playing golf this weekend. They didn't win that game, the Steelers lost it. I'll concede Garrard made a clutch run at the end, and that Jones-Drew had a great kickoff return, a good catch and run for a TD, and a good run for a TD, but that's about it. Beyond those, it was a struggle for the offense all night.

Good luck in Foxboro Saturday, but there's no way the Patriots get beat by this bunch of houligans.

January 8, 2008 at 7:08 PM  
Anonymous Ruf said...

The Jags will lose if Brady has time, but I would definately take the points if I were a betting man. For Jacksonville to win, they'll need the running game and short-to-midrange passing game to shorten Brady's time on the field.
Prediction? The Jaguars are ready. The running game will be lights out, and the Pats will be golfing next weekend. Final score: 31-27.

January 9, 2008 at 4:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My prediction? Pain!!! Go Pats.

January 9, 2008 at 7:41 AM  
Blogger Michael C. Wright said...

"Pain?" Isn't that Mr. T's line on Rocky III? I love it.

January 9, 2008 at 10:19 AM  
Anonymous George said...

To win three things and all three must happen: (1) Jags can't give Brady time in the pocket. If Brady has time, New England rolls, period,
(2) Jags must enjoy an advantage in turnovers or big special teams playw - not probable but possible, and (3) Jags must run wild. These are all possible, but all three together are not probable.

January 9, 2008 at 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pain? Try stress. Try fatigue.


Dead Man Walking, I'd say.

January 9, 2008 at 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jag fans need to stop thinking with their heart and use their brains. Whether it's a blow-out or a close game, the bottom line, is the Pat's win.

January 9, 2008 at 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This prediction is easy, unfortunately. Patriots score on their first possession, as usual. Jags turnover leads to another TD, perhaps a pic-6, making it 14-0, with five minutes gone in the first quarter. Jags end up passing for most of the game, constantly playing catchup and trying to match a tough offense. 38-10 (garbage time TD for Jags) in favor of the rival Patriots. Garrard throws for 175yds, 1 TD and 3 pics. What a great season they have had, as they became the team no one wanted to face. Wait 'til next year. Go Fags!

January 9, 2008 at 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know anyone who ever uttered "fogget aboud it, who's next" or anything remotely similar - despite growing up and living in Boston for almost 30 years...

Anyway, I'm wondering why anyone would have to be "bold" to predict that the game will not even be close. As stated over and over:

The Jags will run the ball and the Jags' defense will try to stop the run.

Pefect. The Pats defense only needs to concentrate on stopping the Jags running game. Meanwhile, the Jags are even going to attempt to stop the Pats' passing game. If this holds up in reality, then we'll be seeing Mat Cassel by the 3rd quarter.

January 10, 2008 at 5:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the biggest factors is the location....in NE. I wouldn't be surprised to see a game similar to the Giants game....big difference for Pats because they won't be on the road. Can't discard that fact. Tough to beat any team at home when the adrenaline gets pumping unless they make mistakes. Patriots have won several games where they didn't win the time of possession battle...Jags will do well running but need a defensive score and/or a TD return to outscore NE. 28-10 Patriots.

January 10, 2008 at 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

I think alot of the Pro NE comments are looking at the situation too simply. One sided comments, over simplifacations.

Is Garrard tenative in his passing? yes...but how many interceptions did he throw this year?

Focus only on NE's running game?!? If they do, they will lose, no doubt about it, but I cannot imagine anyone being so foolish to focus only on the running game with this offense. Brady and Belicheat have given us quite a bit of film here at the end of the regular season to show how they can be beat. PRESSURE on BRADY. If we focus on the run, and expect to win that way, we shouldn't even waste the plane ride.

I'd like to think we learned our lesson last week and in a couple of reg season games, that we HAVE to stick with our strength, the run. Time of possession is one of those stats which can be critical, or meaningless. Of course the Pats have low TOP...they pass almost (and I said almost) every down.

And lets look at the numbers. Pitsburgh, 3rd in the league against the run, 89.9 yds per game. NE, 10th, 98.9 per game. Not to mention, Jacksonville GASHED the Steelers earlier in the season, THEY focused on the run last week, and it showed.

Dec 16th...Pats 20 -- Jets 10. At Foxboro?!? Tell me again how this team is not beatable? Did they lose this game, no, but 10 points over the J-E-T-S -- Jets, Jets, Jets?!?

Will the Jags win...depends on several factors, BUT...the outcome is far from decided. It will be a ballgame, and NE is not guaranteed a victory by any stretch of the imagination. Mr. Brady can be reached, and he will be. Let's se how he likes a few licks from Paul Spicer.

I dare him to try the fake slide again too. I'd take 15 yards to see him pay for that little move again!! He's sneaky (like his coach, apparently) but not that sneaky...

January 10, 2008 at 1:23 PM  
Anonymous JF said...

Hey Rob....it's over before it begins...for your Jags.

There is the rest of the NFL and then there is the Patriots...Jags played a great Pop Warner game last week.

January 10, 2008 at 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Of course the Pats have low TOP...they pass almost (and I said almost) every down."

Actually the Pats were second in the league (ahead of #3 Jags) in time of possession.

So considering the amount of passing they actually do, it's entirely appropriate for any and all Jags fans to be dreading Saturday's match.

January 11, 2008 at 5:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is not easy to run when you are 14 points down. Garard will have to through the ball much more than they are comfortable doing. Who are the jags recievers?

January 11, 2008 at 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it's possible for the Patriots to lose, but the Jags will need everything to line up perfectly for them, and they need the Pats to cooperate. In other words, it's very unlikely.
The Patriots are a veteran group that plays for January games. The Jaguars, and particulary Garrard, looked a little overwhelmed at times last week against the Steelers. Strategically, the Patriots game plan each week to take away, both offensively and defensively, the things their opponent likes to do most. With the Jags, they will take away the run, and force the Jags to win through the air. Jacksonville will make some plays in the pass game, because that's what the Pats will give them, but I don't think they can put the ball up 40+ times and win. The only way they will run the ball is if they are able to physically dominate the NE defense, and that just won't happen. The Patriots are healthy and rested, while the Jags have to have left alot of themselves on the field in Pittsburgh. (That's why getting a bye is so important in the NFL playoffs.) Defensively, it could be a long night for the Jags. The Patriots throw because they average more than twice the yards per play than when they run, although they average 4.5 yards per carry. There's no QB cooler under pressure than Brady. His TD to INT ratio this year is simply unprecendented at this level. In addition to Moss and Welker, Stallworth and Gafney are playmakers, and Watson has the ability to gash a defense as well. Folks, that's just too many weapons for Jacksonville to contend with. While I recognize that most of the nation wants the Jags to win, this looks a lot more like 38-17 Pats than anything else. Be proud of a good season Jacksonville - there's no shame in losing to what may be the best team of all time.

January 11, 2008 at 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Man, I hope the pats are as confident as all of you Monday Morning QB's, because if they are, this will be easy for the Jags.

Any Given Sunday...or in this case I suppose Saturday.

January 11, 2008 at 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Heather H said...

Patriots win 38-24. I love the Jags, but I don't see it happening. The Patriots are just too good and the Jags struggled against a mediocre Steeler team. It was a good season though!

January 11, 2008 at 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the person who sights the Jets game as the reason that the Pats can be "had." You mean the game with the it was in the 30's with a 20mph driving rain. Weather for Sat. at kickoff, about 35 degrees with no wind. The Jags have a great team, but the Pats will force Garrard to beat them, and he has major difficulties in closing games...see last week. The Pats are just going to be too much.

January 11, 2008 at 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the person who sights the Jets game as the reason that the Pats can be "had." You mean the game with the it was in the 30's with a 20mph driving rain. Weather for Sat. at kickoff, about 35 degrees with no wind. The Jags have a great team, but the Pats will force Garrard to beat them, and he has major difficulties in closing games...see last week. The Pats are just going to be too much.

January 11, 2008 at 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Just as a little condolence to you Jags fans, a lot of us Pats fans remember back in '86 when the Pats played the Bears in the Superbowl.

Everyone in New England thought we had a chance to win. If I remember correctly, the spread was less than the one for tonight's game.

But the game quickly turned into a blowout and it wasn't at all fun to watch. This is, unfortunately for you, what everyone in Jacksonville has in store in about 12 hours...

January 12, 2008 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

Heck of a game, Patriots (and Patriot Fans.)

Yes, the Pats won, and they deserved the win. But given the fact that Brady had to put up the near perfect game he did, I still say, the Jags had a shot, it wasn't a guaranteed "lock" for NE. Take that early fumble deep away and it is a different game. But we still got beat, can't say we beat ourselves.

And, yes, close or not, it is still a loss...good game!!!

I'm on the Bandwagon (at least until early February.) I'm not going to be like alot of the NFL fans and be a NE "hater."

The Pats deserve 19-0!!

January 12, 2008 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

I love the person who can't post on a blog without double posting...nice one...

The Jets game points to this...a team EVERY TEAM has vulnerabilities. Maybe that day it was the weather...doesn't mean that is their only vulnerability.

And besides...anyone who can only beat the J-E-T-S by ten...that is all I am saying.

January 12, 2008 at 11:21 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

Good game...Garrard was better than everyone gave him credit for. He played great. Tough to outscore NE. Fans may have wanted to see a blowout but it was evident that the game plan was a play at a time...get a lead and keep it...make the other team beat you. Jaguars didn't do it.

January 13, 2008 at 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Michael. That was from Rocky III. It was painful, wasn't it? I guess some would call the play 'chippy'. Both sides were dishing out some serious pain.

My hat is off to Jack DelRio and the Jags for coming up with a great plan and executing it to near perfection. Unfortunately, the Pats had a good one as well and were more near to perfection than their visiting counterparts.

The Pats did better than I expected by taking away the run game. I imagine that they were not expecting Mr. Garrard to do as well as he did which is what kept this game as close as it was.

I'm travelling to Jacksonville this week for business. Will I be safe wearing my Pats gear? :-) Great year, guys, we'll see you next season.

January 13, 2008 at 1:24 PM  

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