The Jacksonville Jaguars host the New England Patriots on Sunday from TIAA Bank Field in a rematch of the AFC Title game from last season.
If the fans had something to say about it, the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots would determine the AFC Champion right now. It’s only the second week of the 2018 NFL season, but this might be the biggest game of the year for both teams.
For the Jaguars, it’s a chance to exorcize the demons of a 24-20 loss in the AFC Title Game. For the Patriots, it’s a chance to clearly establish themselves as the best team in the conference.
Either way, the history that has been built on this one game in a short amount of time may be bigger than the matchup itself. While the players in the Jaguars locker room may have short-term memories, eliminating the past and focusing on the future, ask anyone about this game and the “man on the street” will tell you this is bigger than any sporting event the city of Jacksonville has ever hosted.
More from Jacksonville Jaguars News
- Jacksonville Jaguars should welcome Derrick Henry into the kingdom
- Jaguars Rumors: Trent Baalke seems to be getting respect now
- Jaguars News: This division rival might be making a big move
- Former Jacksonville Jaguars S Johnathan Cyprien: “New Profession, Same Standards”
- Jacksonville Jaguars TE Evan Engram officially gets the franchise tag: 3 takeaways
Per the Jaguars weekly press release, including the postseason, the Jaguars have won their last six home games. The six-game winning streak is tied for the third-longest in team history and matches Carolina for the third-longest active streak in the NFL, trailing only Minnesota (seven) and New England (eight).
The win over the New York Giants last Sunday got the season underway. It was a much-needed win (I am short of implying it was “must win”) for a team that thrives on momentum.
"“It’s huge. We were talking about it in the locker room. You never really know how Week 1 is going to go,” QB Blake Bortles said (as part of the weekly game release). “To come out and find a way to win when you didn’t have your ‘A’ game as an offense, I think it’s pretty special. For us to find a way to win, I think it’s a good start.”"
The Jaguars will need to find more offense to compete with the Patriots. The defense was stellar in its performance last week, minus the 68-yard touchdown run by Giants rookie Saquon Barkley. This weekend once again, it will be the defense on display facing Tom Brady and company.
Linebacker Telvin Smith may have said it best in a story on ESPN.com. This defense may be just as good as an NFL offense, where every chance to make a play is an opportunity to score a touchdown.
"“I think everybody understands that they know this defense scores touchdowns,” Smith said. “We are almost an offense on defense.“We just play ball, and we play with each other and for each other. Whatever the situation, we don’t back down. We go out and attack.”"
It’s a formula that continues to work and a system that with five minutes left in the game against Brady and New England, still had him beat.
To take it a step further, as Michael DiRocco points out, Only two defenses have scored more defensive TDs in a single season in the past decade (New Orleans scored eight in 2009, and Chicago had nine in 2012). This year’s unit would love to reach double digits, which has been done only once since 1991 (Seattle scored 10 in 1998).
Fans might not want to hear this but the Jaguars aren’t there yet. What I mean is New England and Pittsburgh have storied histories. They have climbed the mountain and won titles. This is the Jaguars best chance to get there. Professional sports are about rivalries and taking the next step forward.
From a historical perspective, the Patriots stepped over the Steelers. The Steelers stepped over the Oakland Raiders. The New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco took turns jumping over each other. The Jaguars have a chance to do the same thing.
First, they must get past the Patriots. It’s no small feat, but one this team is willing to accept such a challenge. Should Jacksonville win on Sunday, the AFC will have a new frontrunner for the Super Bowl. If they lose, then the national media will say they aren’t ready yet.
Perception is everything. This team, this defense believes it is ready now. Sunday will be their proving ground.