Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13, 4-11 ATS) at New England Patriots (9-6, 9-6), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Jaguars Stats and Trends
The Jaguars haven’t covered a spread in six straight games.
Jacksonville is 8-2 toward unders in its last 10 games.
Trevor Lawrence has finished with fewer than 14 FP in eight of his last nine games, and he has just one touchdown pass in his last eight contests. Lawrence at least averaged 7.2 YPA against the Jets last week, which was his best mark since Week 6, but he unfortunately gets the second-toughest matchup for quarterbacks this week — the Patriots are giving up just 14.3 FPG.
Laquon Treadwell has posted five consecutive games with 4+ catches and 50+ receiving yards after finishing with 4/54 receiving on five targets (13% share) against the Jets in Week 16. Marvin Jones has also shown some signs of life recently, posting 70+ yards and 6+ catches in two of his last three contests. The Patriots are giving up the fourth-fewest FPG (29.9) to WRs this season.
James O’Shaughnessy has four catches in each of his last three games, and he could be the top TE once again if Dan Arnold is unable to play this week after being placed on the COVID list on Monday. The Patriots have allowed just two TEs to reach double-digit FP against them this season.
James Robinson’s rollercoaster season came to an end in an unfortunate fashion when he tore his Achilles in the first quarter of Week 16 against the Jets. Passing back Dare Ogunbowale was the last man standing in this backfield in Week 16 with Carlos Hyde landing on the injured reserve last week with a concussion. Ogunbowale finished with 17/57/1 receiving and 2/15 receiving on four targets with an 82% snap share as the team’s only healthy back. Ryquell Armstead could be elevated to the lead runner spot this week after being a healthy scratch against the Jets. The Jaguars were high on Armstead last off-season before his career got derailed after developing myocarditis from a severe bout with COVID. Devin Singletary managed 12/39/1 rushing and 5/39 receiving in this matchup last week, but the Jags figure to have a lot more issues moving the ball than the Bills did last week.
Brolley’s Patriots Stats and Trends
New England has dropped consecutive games outright and ATS after running off seven straight wins and covers in Weeks 7-13.
The Patriots have played over the total in five straight home games.
The Patriots have given up 60 combined points in consecutive games against the Colts and Bills after giving up 60 combined points in their previous six games.
Buffalo became the first team to not punt against a Bill Belichick-coached team in 474 games, which dates back to 1991 when he took his first head coaching job with the original Browns franchise.
Damien Harris carried New England’s offense last week with 18/103/3 rushing for a season-high 28.3 FP in their loss to the Bills. He’s now posted rushing touchdowns in eight of his last nine games with 11 total scores in that span. Michael Carter finished with 16/118 rushing in this matchup last week, and they’ve given up 100+ rushing yards to individual RBs in four of their last seven games.
Mac Jones had a miserable day in New England’s loss to the Bills last week, completing 14/32 passes (43.8%) for 145 scoreless yards (4.5 YPA) and two INTs for 7.1 FP. He gets a much easier matchup against the Jaguars this week, who just allowed another rookie QB, Zach Wilson, to post 23.2 FP against them last week. Davis Mills also posted 209/2 passing against the Jags in Week 15.
Jakobi Meyers still has just one touchdown this season, but he has 4+ catches in 13 of the 14 games in which the Patriots have thrown more than three passes. He’s also posted 11+ FP in four of his last five games in that scenario too. Braxton Berrios managed 5/37 receiving on six targets in this matchup last week.
Kendrick Bourne has cooled off with just 5/77 receiving on seven targets in his last two games, and he hasn’t posted a fantasy-relevant performance since he posted 5/61/2 receiving in Week 12. Jacksonville is giving up the 10th-most FPG (35.9) to WRs this season.
Hunter Henry couldn’t back up his 6/77/2 receiving performance from Week 15, as he managed just a nine-yard catch on six targets against the Bills. He’s now finished with fewer than 10 FP in six of his last eight games after reeling off double-digit FP in four consecutive games in Weeks 4-7. Jacksonville has allowed just one TE (George Kittle) to reach double-digit FP since their Week 7 bye.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 25 (5th)
Plays per game: 59.6 (28th)
Pass: 63.0% (10th) | Run: 37.0% (23rd)
Pace: 28.7 (29th)
Plays per game: 58.9 (29th)
Pass: 49.0% (30th) | Run: 51.0% (3rd)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
I’ll be shocked if this game is even remotely competitive. Over the last eight weeks, the Jaguars are second-from-last in TDs per possession (9.8%) and dead last in average point differential (-9.5 points). As 17-point favorites, the Patriots are going to be able to do what they want offensively here – especially on the ground. New England is second in run rate when leading (57%), which is behind only Philadelphia (63%). Damien Harris is going to carry a lot of teams to a championship against this Jaguars front-seven that is facing the eighth-most carries per game (25.5) and allowing the sixth-most yards per game on the ground (113.9) over the last eight weeks. Overall, this is the worst game on the Week 17 slate from a pace / plays perspective between the Jaguars inept offense and the Patriots, slow-paced and run-heavy ways.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
It’s a near-guarantee, with Jacksonville destined to fail in every one of their efforts to generate offense, that Josh McDaniels will put the offense on the shoulders of his ground attack from the onset. And we are going to see a massive carry distribution passing through the hands of Damien Harris.
Harris will be fresh off of an 18/103/3 rushing line and 31.3 FPs against the Bills. The Jags may be limiting RBs to the second-fewest FPG through the air (7.4), but that number coincides with allowing 15.2 FPG on the ground to RBs (seventh-most). And they are providing RBs with 2.73 GTG carries/game (fourth-most) and 4.93 RZ touches/game (seventh-most). Another most appealing metric is offering up the fourth-most rushing TDs/game (1.2).
Without D.J. Chark Jr., James Robinson, or Travis Etienne, Trevor Lawrence just does not have the horses in the stable with the type of talent to assist him in succeeding. Dire times in Jacksonville with Dare Ogunbowale set to be featured in the offense. Don’t worry, if Ogunbowale falters, Nathan Cottrell, Ryquell Armstead, and Mekhi Sargent are ready to showcase their wares. In all seriousness, among this group, I would actually like to see what Sargent could do in the featured role. He had himself a decent preseason, for what it’s worth
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The Jaguars have a miserable matchup with the Patriots this week, who have FootballOutsiders’ #3 overall defense by DVOA. That’s not a good spot for rookie QB Trevor Lawrence, who has thrown just one TD pass in his last eight games… and none since Week 12. He is not a fantasy option.
Unfortunately for the Jags, who are now down to fourth-string RB Dare Ogunbowale and prodigal son Ryquell Armstead, the Pats also have the NFL’s #8 run defense by DVOA. Ogunbowale is the better play if you need one here because he’s actually played football in the last two years — Armstead had a horrible bout with COVID — but you probably need some passes caught by him to come through for fantasy because I don’t trust the Jags to score much in this game. He’s a volume-based FLEX.
Here’s Graham on Ogunbowale from Start/Sit:
“Look, I get it – injuries and the constantly changing COVID landscape have ravaged everyone’s roster and you might be down bad in your RB slot even in your championship game. That said, I’d avoid Ogunbowale at all costs this week unless you can’t completely avoid him. Ogunbowale ended up being the top waiver add after James Robinson’s unfortunate Achilles tear. Dare came in relief and got 17 carries and 4 targets but I’m not convinced we see Ogunbowale get the same exact workload here. The Jaguars brought Ryquell Armstead back last week after Carlos Hyde (concussion) was placed on season-ending I.R. and Armstead may get some more burn here. Jacksonville is completely dead once again after losing to 2021 basement-dwellers in the Texans and Jets in back-to-back weeks.
I don’t want to trust any Jaguars on Championship week, especially considering how badly the markets view this offense this week against the Patriots. Vegas has the Jaguars implied team total down at 13.25 this week, which is easily the lowest total we’ve seen all year. The Jags’ could be down multiple linemen, too, with LG Andrew Norwell, C Brandon Linder, and RG Ben Bartch all in the league’s COVID protocols. Ogunbowale is a weak FLEX.”
He hasn’t been a fantasy option all year, but if you’re dying for a QB this week, you could do worse than Mac Jones, given the Jags have struggled against rookie QBs in the last two weeks — Davis Mills and Zach Wilson. Meanwhile, the Jags are giving up the 10th-most FPG to WRs if you need Jakobi Meyers or Kendrick Bourne on the low end.
Here’s Scott Barrett on Meyers, from Start/Sit:
“Meyers has arguably had the most difficult strength of schedule of any WR, facing off against defenses ranking top-12 in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs in 10 of his 15 games. Against those teams, Meyers averages 7.4 targets per game and 8.3 FPG. In all other games he averages 8.2 targets per game and 13.3 FPG. Look for Meyers to put up numbers more in line with that this week, in a favorable matchup against Jacksonville. The Jaguars rank 15th-worst in FPG allowed to opposing slot WRs, but also bottom-3 in both fantasy points allowed per target (2.12) and passer rating allowed to slot WRs (113.7). We like him this week as a low-end WR3.”
With Rhamondre Stevenson on the COVID-19 list, Damien Harris went absolutely bonkers against the Bills last week with 3 rushing TD, and I have to imagine he will be the Pats’ lead back this week — Stevenson bombed in his chance as the lead runner with Harris out in Week 15 against the Colts.
Damien Harris is the Patriots offensive MVP this season. That's a 31-yard run.— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) December 26, 2021
Harris has scored at least 1 TD in eight of his last nine games, and this is a glorious matchup against a defense that allowed Michael Carter to go over 100 yards last week. He’s an RB1, though I do expect Stevenson to work back in.