WR Allen Hurns vs. Patriots CB Eric Rowe: When the Jaguars spread the field for Bortles, he needs to avoid forcing it to Westbrook, Lee or Cole. This is a good week to get Hurns going in the slot, given another savvy possession veteran receiver, the Titans’ Eric Decker, ripped the Patriots for six catches and 85 yards on seven targets last week.
It’s been another injury-riddled year for Hurns, but Jacksonville can’t hold him back from being a key part of the game plan against the overmatched Rowe.
RG A.J. Cann vs. Patriots DT Malcom Brown: While the Malcolm on the outside will contain Lee, this Malcom in the middle can be a huge force in blowing up the running game at the point of attack. There is a big drop-off from Linder and Omameh to Cann in Jacksonville’s interior run-blocking for Fournette.
It also is possible that the hiring of Gettleman could take the Giants out of the running for Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to fill their head coaching vacancy. Some within the league suspect that McDaniels wants to work with Patriots executive Nick Caserio or ESPN analyst Louis Riddick as his GM. The Giants interviewed Riddick but went with Gettleman, who formerly worked for Ernie Accorsi in the team’s front office. Accorsi assisted the Giants’ search.
But not everyone within the sport considers that a sure thing.
DT Malik Jackson: Much has been made about Tom Coughlin knowing how to beat the Patriots with a strong front four. But on a team full of younger players with little playoff experience, Jackson is the one who’s been on the field to defeat New England twice in the AFC championship game while in Denver.
Jackson was a beast in the games against Buffalo and Pittsburgh as Jacksonville’s savvy anchor. Campbell and Ngakoue have the double-digit sacks, but Jackson can have a bigger overall impact vs. run and pass Sunday.
He’s as competitive as they come; he just doesn’t rub people the wrong way when he expresses that competitiveness. He’s also a better athlete than people think — just think back to the Helmet Catch in Super Bowl XLII, where he was only able to get the ball off after escaping certain doom in the pocket.