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Old 01-06-2006, 09:34 AM
TomWilkinson TomWilkinson is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 118
Default Patriots Facing Tough Jaguars

The defending champion New England Patriots are a touchdown or so favorite over Jacksonville this weekend, but it may not be as easy as the oddsmakers predict for the Jaguars.

The Jaguars' starting defensive backs are all 6-foot or taller. Only one of the Patriots' top four receivers is taller than 5-10. "They play tight coverage. Their corners come up and hit you," New England tight end Christian Fauria said. The Jaguars' four top wide receivers all are 6-1 or taller, while the Patriots' tallest starting defensive back is 5-10.

"When defensive backs are competing against bigger receivers," New England linebacker Mike Vrabel said, "you understand that they're going to make plays, they're going to catch the ball, they're going to make plays down the field. That's when linebackers and defensive linemen can run to the football and maybe make a hit and help save a play."

The Patriots have to deal with a very tough Jag’s defense. "They consistently knock the line of scrimmage back," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "They're hard to block and if you stay on them and block them, then it's hard to get to the next level. It's hard to get up to the linebackers. And if you get off of them too quick, then they penetrate."

Tom Brady led the NFL with a career-high 4,110 yards passing and is the best weapon for the Patriots because Corey Dillon has been hobbled by injuries. Dillon, averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry, missed last Sunday's loss to Miami in the final regular-season game but is listed as probable for Saturday with a calf problem.

I feel good," Dillon said. "I'm healthy. I'm ready to go."

Jacksonville is averaging 28 more yards on the ground per game than the Patriots with Fred Taylor gaining 787 yards and Greg Jones picking up 575. "We are trying to get ourselves ready for our game plan and stop the run," Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest said. "If we can't do that, nothing else really matters."

With Kyle Brady, the Jaguars have a big tight end to block on the run and help protect the 240-pound Leftwich, who is returning after missing six games with a broken ankle. "He's strong. He's a big guy," McGinest said. "He can throw the ball downfield. He can scramble."
"Sometimes you go against guys who are bigger than you or over-mass your size, but it really doesn't matter. It is just how you play the game," McGinest said. "We are not preparing for size. We are preparing for what they do."
Tom Wilkinson
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