New England Patriots vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Picks & Odds: January 12th, 2008
The hard-hitting, smash-mouth Jacksonville Jaguars have been running the ball as well as any team in the playoffs and showed they belong by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field for the second time this year last weekend to advance to this divisional round matchup against the New England Patriots. It should not have come as a surprise, however, that the Jags won last week. The football betting lines favored the visitors and rightly so, as the Jags have been built, it seems, specifically to get them past Pittsburgh and give them a chance to beat anyone. In the past five meetings between the Jaguars and Steelers in Pittsburgh, Jacksonville has walked out with four wins.
The jaguars will have to wear down the aging linebacker corps of the Patriots if they are to duplicate the success they had last week. Maurice Jones-Drew will pound the ball inside between the tackles and then Fred Taylor will change things up, going to the edges. This will force Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau to have to chase down the zone stretch runs and will likely force safety Rodney Harrison to step into the box to help out. The Patriots do not have a lot of depth at these key run-stopping positions and, if Jacksonville can establish the running game early and not fall too far behind, they will be in excellent shape to score some late points on sustained drives.
NFL Divisional Playoffs: Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 8:00 EST
Jaguars quarterback David Garrard is a great story this season and he has backed up his coaches shocking decision to drop incumbent starter Byron Leftwich one week before the start of the season by becoming one of the most efficient, if not flashy, starters in the NFL betting this year. It seemed he may have had a case of the nerves starting his first playoff game in Pittsburgh last week, as he made a couple of awful throws completely out of his character this year. He will not be able to get away with the same errors against New England that the Steelers could not take advantage of.
This Saturday, the BetUS sportsbook has the Jaguars as 13-point road dogs. If you bet on football, you know that a spread this big is a rare thing by the time one gets to the divisional playoffs. So far this season, betting on the Patriots has been an almost sure winner. You know what the Pats can pull off. Now you must decide whether Garrard and the Jags running game can counter.