JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Through the course of the Patriots reign as the team to beat in the AFC, Tom Brady and company have won games even before the opening kickoff because teams didn’t truly believe that they could beat New England. For instance, the 2015 Jaguars, who lost 51-17 in New England.
This year’s version of the Jaguars are not one of those teams.
After going nose-to-nose with the Patriots in the AFC championship game in January, the Jaguars are confident that they can—and will—beat New England Sunday.
“We are just locked in,” cornerback A.J. Bouye said. “I was talking to Telvin about it, just the way we're preparing, even off the field. “We know what their quarterback is doing. We know how to prepare out there. We're trying to be that much harder on preparing, with film, on the field, off the field, so we're definitely locked in. We're looking forward to it. It is going to be a great game and great matchups and we're ready to step up."
In the AFC championship game, the Jaguars allowed just one touchdown to the Patriots until the final nine minutes of the game. That’s when Brady connected twice with Danny Amendola and the Jaguars couldn’t convert third downs to keep the Patriots offense on the sideline. Still, the game was a sign that the Jaguars were not out of their depth playing against New England.
“We feel like we can play with anybody. We feel like we match up well with them,” free safety Tashaun Gipson said. “I think that when you look at from an athletic standpoint, we are definitely more superior, athletically gifted when it comes to the defensive side of the ball compared to the guy that they have.”
While the matchup of the Jaguars' offense—perhaps without Leonard Fournette—against the Patriots defense will play a large role in determining the winner, the marquee matchup is Brady vs. the Jaguars defense, a unit with designs on being one of the best of all time.
“Our D-line is second to none. You look at our linebackers, they’re second to none. Our secondary is the best. So we feel like no matter what coverage we run, we will be able to apply pressure,” Gipson said. “We feel like we can play with anybody. The Patriots coming here, they’re coming into our house. I would say that they are more worried about the Jaguars this year.”