Remember Week 3 last season?
The New England Patriots met the lowly Oakland Raiders in their home opener. The Pats were 1-1, having been trounced in Week 1 at Miami before bouncing back against the Vikings, who were less than two full days removed from the Adrian Peterson disaster coming to light.
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Given the Raiders woeful reputation and start to the season, the Pats were massive favorites with the line climbing as high as -14.5. Oakland traveled cross country to play a 1:00 game with a rookie quarterback and a head coach in Dennis Allen sitting squarely on the hottest of seats.
But the Patriots didn’t blow out the Raiders. Not even close. In fact, the game came down to a tipped interception by Vince Wilfork at the New England 12-yard line with 59 seconds left. The Patriots escaped Gillette Stadium with a 16-9 victory that day in a telling precursor to what would go down eight days later on Monday Night Football in Kansas City.
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The Pats looked nothing like the eventual Super Bowl champs in Week 3 last year. So before everyone bets the kids’ college savings on the home team giving two touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars, try to remember to have a little perspective.
Is Jacksonville a good team? Probably not, although last week’s win over the forever .500 Dolphins was impressive. There are certainly some weapons on the Jaguars’ roster, from rookie running back T.J. Yeldon to receiver Allen Robinson to Patriots nemesis Jared Odrick, formerly of Miami, on the D-line.
Quarterback Blake Bortles is very much a work in progress but he’s capable of making plays outside the pocket and get the ball downfield not unlike Oakland QB Derek Carr, who played well in a similar situation for the Raiders in that Week 3 game last year. And now seems like a good time to note that Oakland’s offensive coordinator then — Greg Olson — is Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator now.
The Patriots are probably going to win this game. They are locked in on offense, particularly at the quarterback position and in the passing game. The defense is still rounding into form but has shown flashes of excellence both against Buffalo (five straight three-and-outs in the first half to go with three turnovers) and Pittsburgh. These aren’t the old Jaguars who played the Patriots with some regularity in the postseason but you can bet the lack of familiarity has been pounded home by Bill Belichick and his staff this week. Focus and preparation shouldn’t be an issue, even with the bye week on the horizon.
But don’t forget Week 3 of last season, Patriots fans. Stranger things have happened, any given Sunday and all that, etc. In the NFL, you know a walkover when you see it. But that doesn’t mean you can predict when one’s coming.
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