Wednesday, January 09, 2008

NFL Divisional Playoffs Pre-Game Analysis: Jacksonville at New England

Jacksonville Do’s and Don’t’s:

Do wear down the aging New England linebackers. Whether that means constantly running the ball or completing a lot of passes underneath, you want to tire out these guys. They’re the heart of the defense, and if they’re struggling to breathe, so will everyone else.

Do bring the occasional blitz on Brady. I don’t mean only once or twice during the game, but rather a handful of times early on, and maybe twice after halftime. I also don’t mean bringing everyone on the blitz, but just one or two extras. This will force New England to run more than they like to.

Do watch the Philadelphia and Baltimore game tapes. Hell, bring in Andy Reid during the week and consult with him. These teams had a solid game plan and nearly upset the Pats. Now imagine if they were as good as you are…

Don’t be intimidated. The last few weeks of the season demonstrated that the Patriots are mortal, even though they don’t believe they are. Get in their heads, make Brady doubt himself even for a minute, and you’ll have the biggest upset of the year.

Don’t get comfortable. Even if you build up a good lead, say 12 points, don’t start taking it easy. New England never feels that it’s out of a game, and will do everything it can to win the game, even if it’s in the final seconds.

Don’t forget about Ben Watson and Wes Welker. These two have stepped it up whenever Randy Moss gets the double coverage, and both have made teams pay all season. This is especially true in the red zone.

New England Do’s and Don’t’s:

Do stick to the game plan that proved so successful all season. In other words, no mercy. The past few weeks have shown a possible chink in your indestructible armor, so now you need to put an end to that. If you can make this a statement game, the awe you inspired in other teams will return.

Do pressure Garrard into mistakes. He won’t make the stupid mistakes on his own, but on this stage, I think he can be easily pressured into making them. Maybe even have one of the linebackers shadow him for most of the game.

Don’t forget about defending against the run. This aspect of your defense has been spotty all season. Now, with the best two-headed running tandem in the league coming to town, you need to step it up. Otherwise, Taylor and Jones-Drew will win this game on their own.

Don’t forget about Kevin Faulk. Especially if you’re having a hard time establishing the running game through Maroney. In this case, bring in Kevin Faulk and make use of the patented “Steve Spurrier running game.” AKA screen passes up the wazoo. Faulk has proven time and time again that he can work wonders when needed to, so rely on him.

Key Matchups:

When Jacksonville has the ball

QB David Garrard vs. New England’s Linebackers

Don’t get me wrong, New England’s front three can bring pressure on the quarterback, but the game changing plays will likely come from the linebackers. Whether it’s Vrabel, Bruschi, Seau, Thomas or anyone else, these are the guys that can put effective pressure on Garrard. Now, if Garrard is properly prepared to sidestep and rush by these aging heroes, then it’ll be a long day for the New England defense.

When New England has the ball

LT Matt Light vs. DE Paul Spicer

As mentioned earlier, the key to slowing down the Patriots offense is to get to Brady on a regular basis. Paul Spicer is the guy who should be able to do that. Of course, he’s also probably on the New England bulletin board thanks to his comments about spygate. That should be enough extra motivation for Matt Light, but Spicer is too good to be shut down by one man, especially if that man is Matt Light. So the Pats will need to get some help to their left tackle, otherwise Brady’s effectiveness will be drastically minimized.

Intangibles:

Hotness

Some hack on PHSports labeled these two teams as being “hot” heading into the playoffs. The question now is which team can translate its momentum into a victory? Jacksonville looked like its momentum was going to increase early on in the game against Pittsburgh, but the fact that they let the Steelers get back into the game might hurt that ego. Then again, winning a close game at Heinz field might give them extra juice. New England, on the other hand, just won a shootout against the Giants in their last game. And who can forget about that 16-0 season?

Coaching

We all know Belichick will coach his team up well for this game. But the question is, how will Jack del Rio do? Will he be able to inspire his team and encourage them to an improbable victory? Will he be able to devise a perfect game plan? Or will he fail to bring the necessary motivation and preparation to the table? Either way, he will likely be labeled the hero or the zero following Saturday night’s game.

Final Score Prediction:

New England wins, 38 - 21

3 comments:

Chris Clement said...

While I almost never hype any of their writer's on this blog (comments or articles) and I almost always refrain from hyperlinking them...

Jeremy Green has a rather interesting take on this game.

I still don't buy how he feels the Jags will mount an impressive pass rush (which is almost impossible to do outside of spurts, even Philly and the Giants know that) and keep the deep ball from keeping them trailing early on in the game.

In fact, one thing I need to add for Jacksonville:
DO win the coin and DO score on your first posession. Because honestly, the Pats will.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs07/columns/story?columnist=green_jeremy&id=3187786

Green's article link. Front page treatment with ESPN talking about how the two #1s never meet in the Super Bowl (not since 1993).

Interesting, but I don't buy it.

New England at 16-0 becoming 19-0 is as sure a thing as I have ever believed in sports.

The only thing that would be more of a sporting upset: George Mason over UCONN in the Elite Eight.

And that only happens once.

Armin said...

I like what Mort said this morning on Mike & Mike. There were so many Pittsburgh receivers open, that if Pats receivers are open like that, the game will be over quickly.

summy said...

Personally, I like my final "Don't" for Jacksonville. Imagine if they'd listened...