Even the most optimistic Jaguar fan must admit that a victory in Foxborough would be nothing short of a Christmas miracle. Coming off a heartbreaking loss to Peyton Manning, they now get to travel and face Tom Brady. All that is missing is a season ending game in New Orleans.
You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch. The greatest weakness of the Jaguars gets to face two of the most prolific passing attacks in the NFL with the playoffs on the line. If the Colts caused you concern, this game should totally horrify you.
The Patriots have two 1,000 yard receivers in Randy Moss and Wes Welker along with an efficient pass catching back in Kevin Faulk. Their offensive line has given up 16 sacks and 64 quarterback hits and get to face the worst pass rush in the league. Nothing implies the Jaguars can get to Brady with any consistency. They haven't instilled fear in opposing offenses all year, save the final defensive stop in their win over Buffalo, to warrant any belief the pass rush will suddenly appear.
Need more perspective? Digest these.
- Jacksonville ranks 29th in allowing a 66.6 percent completion rate to opposing quarterbacks. Seattle is 30th at 66.5 percent.
- Jacksonville ranks 27th in allowing 3,421 yards passing for the season. San Francisco is next at 3,473 followed by Seattle at 3,492.
- Jacksonville is tied with two other teams in allowing 24 passing touchdowns this season, ranking them 24th.
- New England ranks 8th with a 64.8 percent completion rate.
- New England ranks 4th with 3,926 yards for the year.
- New England is tied with three teams in the 8th slot for passing touchdowns at 24.
What can the Jaguars exploit? Their strength is on the ground and they get to face a defense that has allowed a league low three rushing touchdowns all season.
Help from Mother Nature? In case you may have forgotten, the 59-0 dismantling of the Titans in week six was executed in a snow storm.
Now is not the time to expect a Derrick Harvey or Reggie Nelson to all of a sudden find that inner play-maker. Nor can we expect Derek Cox, Gerald Alexander and Rashean Mathis to collectively do what only the Darrelle Revis led Jets could do against a Welker-less Pats.
It is difficult to find any clinquant of hope.
That is the same way we all felt back in 2007 when the Jaguars went to face the perfect Patriots. It was a game in which, much like last week's game against the Colts, the Jaguars rode the wave of David Garrard's arm. Unfortunately when faced with perfection in both instances the Jaguars made just enough mistakes to fall short of victory.
David rebounded from sub-par games against Pittsburgh (2007) and Miami (2009) to put the team on his shoulders and quiet the nay sayers. When pundits were playing the funeral dirge for a one dimensional running team, number nine answered back.
There is your hope.
New England has given up over 400 yards of total offense four times this year: all loses.
In those same games they gave up over 300 yards through the air. Simply put, you want to beat the Pats you'd better be successful in the passing attack.
And it isn't even a matter of getting up early. In loses to Indianapolis, Denver and Miami the Patriots couldn't hold onto fourth quarter leads. This is not the same secondary that thwarted Peyton Manning annually
Surely many of you are questioning whether David can come through. His big game failings are well documented and the road is where we've seen him at his worst. But he has been to the north east before and performed above expectations. Remember, Garrard's weapons against the perfect Patriots were Matt Jones, Dennis Northcut and Reggie Williams.
Maybe this time a wide receiver will make the catch...or Dirk Koetter will call another gem...or possibly the defense will be allowed to make plays rather than sit back and wait for someone else to make a mistake. This franchise has seen miracles before. It is the perfect season for one and the Jaguars are due.