After handling the Houston Texans in Week 1, the New England Patriots will make their way down to Jacksonville in what will be a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game against Blake Bortles and the Jaguars.
There’s no shortage of storylines in this one, either, as Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey has essentially made a week out of challenging the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski to beat him in coverage. Gronkowski, for what it’s worth, has done his part to avoid the trash-talk game, but has made it known that he’s willing to step up in defense of himself and teammates if needed.
And seeing as this is their home opener, the Jaguars will be extra hyped up to go against the team that ended their 2017 year.
But Gronkowski and the New England offense come into this game after putting up 27 points in their Week 1 victory over Houston, while the Jaguars also bring a 1-0 record into play behind last weekend’s victory over Eli Manning’s New York Giants.
Here are the 98.5 The Sports Hub staff’s picks for how it will all shake down Sunday in Jacksonville…
Ty Anderson (Writer/columnist, 985TheSportsHub.com)
Deshaun Watson made me look like an absolute bozo last week for taking the Texans. And you think I’m gonna let Blake Bortles trick me this time around? Absolutely not. I don’t care that this is Jacksonville’s home opener, or that their defense is made up of limitless trash talk and enough intensity to power all of Duval County. This team hardly handled a New York Giants team that won just three games a year ago, and Leonard Fournette is a game-time decision after not practicing this week. The Patriots, meanwhile, are turning James Develin into a legitimate weapon. Because of course they are.
Patriots 23, Jaguars 13.
Matt Dolloff (Writer/producer, 985TheSportsHub.com)
Even with healthy running backs, I’m expecting Tom Brady to throw the hell out of the ball in this one. I see the Patriots spreading the Jaguars out and throwing short, where they can exploit the linebackers with quicker receivers and potentially get them to bite on play-action fakes. They’ll still have limited breathing room and the Jags will get their share of stops, limiting the points. But I have no faith in Blake Bortles giving the Jacksonville offense a chance to get in the end zone. The Pats secondary should have no trouble covering their receivers and they’ll continue bringing the pressure, especially in the red zone.
Patriots 20, Jaguars 12.
Adam Jones (The Adam Jones Show)
Everything lines up for Jacksonville. It’s their home opener in an AFC Championship Game rematch. They should be hungry for this game. This is the week we find out if they are for real. I have them getting to the Super Bowl (and losing to Minnesota), so I’m wagering that they are.
Jaguars 21, Patriots 20.
Tony Massarotti (Felger and Mazz)
Jags need to win this game if they want to be taken seriously and it feels like a a bad matchup for a Patriots offense that is still figuring things out. Oh, and the game is in Jacksonville this time.
Jaguars 23, Patriots 16.
Mike ‘Sarge’ Riley (98.5 The Sports Hub)
Does this trash talk by Jalen Ramsey on Gronk bring back memories of Darrell Revis or Richard Sherman early in their career? Seems to be a little extra confident, considering he hasn’t “beat” the Patriots yet. But, if he can talk the talk, I think he’ll be walking the walk too. I had this game circled during the offseason as a loss for the Pats and sticking with it. Gimme the Jags at home who are still bitter over the AFC Championship. And this time, Tom Brady won’t be able to throw to Danny Amendola.
Jaguars 27, Patriots 24.
For 98.5 The Sports Hub’s complete coverage of this Week 2 meeting, click here.