Who: Jacksonville Jaguars (12-6) at New England Patriots (14-3)
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
When: 3:05 p.m. Sunday
What: AFC Championship Game
Spread: Patriots (-7 1/2) U/O: 46
Why to Watch:
It obviously, needs no more build up. A bid to Super Bowl LII is at stake for the defending champion Patriots and the upstart Jaguars. While New England is playing in its seventh consecutive AFC Championship Game, it’s only the third ever for Jacksonville, and the first since January of 2000.
The Jaguars are fresh off their AFC Divisional Round upset of Pittsburgh 45-42 a week ago and their confidence is sky high. The Jags boast an outstanding defense and rookie RB Leonard Fournette (above) is the real deal.
Meanwhile, there is still uncertainty over the right hand/thumb injury that Pats QB Tom Brady suffered Wednesday in practice. And, it only adds to the drama come kickoff of this one.
Will the Patriots make their eighth Super Bowl of the Brady/Bill Belichick era or can the 2017 Jaguars make franchise history by advancing to Minnesota in two weeks?
Also, obviously, how effective can Brady be against the Jaguars ferocious rush?
If the thumb injury is truly bothering him, that will show up, immediately. This is especially since, the Jaguars will likely be able to get pressure constantly with their front four defensive line without blitzing and make Brady get rid of the ball quickly and decisively.
The Jaguars had two sacks, including a fumble return TD and another interception of Ben Roethlisberger a week ago. They finished second in the NFL in sacks in the regular season and will look to not only pressure but hit Brady early and often.
Now, even if Brady’s thumb is bothering him, he should be able to throw quickly and accurately on the Patriots bread and butter short passing routes, if there are open targets. That means that corners Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and others will be tested early on tight coverage of the likes of Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, and Chris Hogan.
Can Brady make the throws? Will the Jags pass rush let him? It’s almost time to find out.
That’s the number of non-offensive touchdowns the Jaguars have scored this season, through last week’s second playoff win against the Steelers.
And in that game at Heinz Field, Dante Fowler sacked Roethlisberger and Telvin Smith picked up the fumble and ran 50 yards to a touchdown. It was the seventh defensive score of the season of the Jags.
They also have scored this season on a Jaydon Mickens punt return touchdown bringing the total to eight extra TDs they’ve gotten.
Will the Jaguars be able to get another non-offensive score in this showdown with the Patriots?
If they do, it increases their win chances dramatically.
Concern continues for former Jaguars DB Donovin Darius
Former Jaguars first-round pick and star defensive back of the late 90s- early 2000s, Donovan Darius, remains under a mental health watch after being arrested for DUI in North Florida Sunday and, further, concerns that he was suicidal.
ESPN Jaguars reporter Mike Dirocco had more details on the Sunday arrest and later hospitalization of Darius who was a first-round pick of the Jaguars in the 1998:
Former Jacksonville Jaguars safety Donovin Darius ingested numerous pills after being arrested and charged for driving under the influence on Sunday afternoon, per a law enforcement source. Darius was taken to a Jacksonville hospital for a mental health… https://t.co/Sqc3rSzwy7
— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) January 27, 2020
According to a police Source, DiRocco reported that Darius had crashed his vehicle around 10 a.m. Sunday and told paramedics that he had ingested 20 – 30 pills trying to kill himself.
Police did find empty pill bottles in Darius’ car and could not follow through with a field sobriety test, as apparently Darius could not stand on his own and was incoherent. Darius was transported to a nearby hospital and is currently being held on Florida’s 72-hour “Baker Act,” which allows authorities out of concern for a person’s well-being or that he’s a danger to others, to hold and evaluate them.
Darius was also charged with misdemeanor DUI, although he didn’t appear in the Duval County Jail.
Darius started 117 games in his nine-year Jaguar career. His biggest season was 2004, where he had 89 tackles recorded five interceptions and recovered four fumbles. Dariuss played in four playoff games all coming in his first two seasons. That included an interception against the New York Jets in Jacksonville’s AFC Divisional round playoff loss 34 – 24.
Darius’ last season with Jacksonville was 2006, where he played in 10 games. Darius played in three games in the 2007 season for the Dolphins before being released and retired after that.
The 44 year old Darius has remained involved in the Jacksonville Community including being part of a sports camp for youth last November:
CALLING ALL BOYS AGES 9-18 | I’m challenging you in a race at my (FREE)30th D.A.R.E to DREAM SPORTS LIFE CAMP that will take place at on Sat. November 16th – 10am -2pm at University of North Florida. JOIN ME for… https://t.co/oqSY3JZMsn
— Donovin Darius (@DonovinDarius) October 31, 2019
Darius was recognized on the field at halftime of the Gator Bowl game at TIAA Bank Field (photo above) back on January 2nd between Tennessee and Indiana.
Duval County records do not yet have a court date yet for Darius, and it will be up to mental health officials to evaluate whether he can safely be released later this week.
Jaguars rookie DE Josh Allen on display in Pro Bowl
This afternoon in Orlando Jacksonville Jaguars rookie first-round pick Josh Allen will get to show NFL fans why he’s one of the best kept secrets on the defensive side of the ball in the league.
Allen will be participating, as a reserve for the AFC Squad in the annual Pro Bowl All-Star Game.
This, as he was a replacement for Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Frank Clark, because the Chiefs will be participating in Super Bowl 54 this week. The rookie 7th overall pick out of Kentucky has had a deserving season with 10.5 sacks, which was the most among rookies in the AFC in 2019 and is also a Jaguars single-season rookie record.
Allen also had 22 QB hits and another 11 tackles for loss even during a trying Jacksonville season.
Further, Allen was drafted a year ago by the Jaguars front office of Tom Coughlin and GM Dave Caldwell to be a potential replacement at defensive end for a couple of Jaguars, who may not be around much longer. One of those is their top pass-rusher of the last three seasons Yannick Ngakoue, who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent coming up in March.
Of course Jacksonville could still find a way to re-sign Ngakoue, or even place the “Franchise Tag” on him, if they so desired. That would be a somewhere around an $18-19 million for 2020.
Then, you have fellow veteran pro bowler Calais Campbell who has earned the Pro Bowl honor for the third consecutive year and is arguably the Jaguars best free agent acquisition in team history. Campbell made this year’s AFC Pro Bowl Squad with 6.5 sacks and has the longest current streak of 11 seasons with at least five of them.
However, he is slated to make $14.5 million this season and at his advanced age (he’ll be 34 this fall) may not be worth that salary to Caldwell and the organization.
Jacksonville could elect to restructure Campbell’s contract especially because he is a liter not only are the defense but in their locker room back to Alan he’s certainly has tremendous potential but if the combo oven gokwe and or Campbell aren’t there it would make much more difficulty for him to have a success that he had in 2019.
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