By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Rookie cornerback JC Jackson is going to be as important to the Patriots defense as he has all season against the Chargers' deep group of big, athletic wideouts. Good thing he's as confident as they come on this team.
Jackson's matchup in Sunday's AFC Divisional Playoff may be a bit of a mystery at this point, but he's most certainly going to line up outside most of the time. If Stephon Gilmore draws Keenan Allen, whom Bill Belichick succinctly described as "one of the best receivers in the league", then Jackson has a good chance to line up against impressive second-year receiver Mike Williams.
Williams caught 10 touchdowns in the regular season, eight of which came in the red zone. But he's also a big-play threat; he scored touchdowns from 30, 42, and 55 yards out as well. If Jackson has to cover him, he's going to have to excel as much down the field as in the short areas.
So it's a good sign that not only is Jackson playing his best football late in the season, he's feeling as confident as ever.
"I feel like nobody could catch a pass on me, that's my mindset," said Jackson. "Whoever I'm guarding, whoever's in front of me, that's my job. Make sure he doesn't catch the ball."
That's going to be a tall order against this group. Literally. Mike Williams stands at 6-foot-4. The other Williams, Tyrell, is also 6-foot-4. Allen is the "short" one at 6-foot-2. So Jackson's size will certainly come in handy as long as he can execute.
Jackson was also pretty honest about his nerves, which are understandable for any rookie. He can't help but feel those proverbial butterflies as he prepares for his first playoff action. He's also feeling like that preparation is going to show when he takes the field against the Chargers, and the Patriots are going to need it.
"Of course I'm nervous, it's my first playoff game," said Jackson. "I'm nervous but I'm ready. It's a 'ready' nervous."
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].