Let me just get something off my chest … I’m a Patriots fan. Week 1 for New Englanders kicks off on Sunday. We don’t even get out of bed for anything less than the AFC Championship Game.
Don’t play with fireworks, kids.
But hell, what do I care? I’d personally rest him this week just so you can add Brian Hoyer to the list of mediocre QBs playing in the title games.
Hoyer! Bortles! Foles! Keenum! Talk about a sign of the apocalypse … — Mark Gallant
Jaguars at Patriots (-7.5) | O/U: 45.5
3:05 p.m. ET | CBS
Betting market: This one has been a bit of a roller coaster. Around midday on Wednesday, the Patriots were 9-point favorites across the majority of the betting market, including sharper books like Bookmaker.eu and CRIS. By Thursday evening, amid speculation surrounding the severity of Tom Brady’s hand injury, they’d dipped all the way to -7 at those same sharper shops. And on Friday morning, Bookmaker.eu took the line off the board entirely, before re-opening it at around 10 a.m. at Patriots -7. By Saturday morning, the line moved to at least -7.5 across the board, where it’s stayed since. The public is taking the Pats at nearly a 2-to-1 rate. — Mark Gallant
Injuries to watch: Questions surrounding Brady’s health may have caused havoc in the betting market, but he’s expected to play through his questionable tag and suit up Sunday. RB Rex Burkhead (knee, questionable) should return to the team’s crowded backfield, meaning RB Mike Gillislee (knee, questionable) could find himself as a healthy scratch, even if he’s ultimately able to suit up. RB Leonard Fournette (ankle, not listed) was involved in a minor fender bender earlier in the week in addition to his ankle injury sustained against the Steelers, but he practiced all week and will look to take advantage of a Patriots defensive line that could again be without 6’5″ 325-pound run stuffer Alan Branch (knee, questionable). The Jaguars defense finds itself almost fully healthy, as only FS Tashaun Gipson (foot, questionable) is at risk of missing Sunday’s game. — Ian Hartitz
What the metrics say: The Jaguars’ strengths match up pretty well with a few key Patriots weaknesses. Their No. 2-ranked pass-rush will have an edge against New England’s average pass-blocking unit. Leonard Fournette should have plenty of room to run against the Patriots’ 31st-ranked defense in yards per carry allowed. But don’t discount the edge New England’s offense will have on the ground: They rank No. 3 in rush DVOA thanks to their top-ranked O-line in Adjusted Line Yards. Jacksonville’s defensive front comes in at 28th in the same stat. — Stuckey