The New England Patriots will try to right the ship after a two-game losing streak knocked them out of the driver’s seat in the AFC East. There are few better ways to get well than against the 2-13 Jaguars, who have already replaced their coach this season.
With COVID cases continuing to climb on both sides, however, no one seems to be “getting well” ahead of the Week 17 game in Foxborough. Below, we’ll take a look at the early NFL odds and best sportsbook to bet with.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New England Patriots
Sunday, January 2, 2022- 1:00 PM EST at Gillette Stadium
The New England Patriots will try to right the ship after a two-game losing streak knocked them out of the AFC driver’s seat. The Patriots entered their early-December bye winners of seven straight and on pace to earn home-field advantage through the playoffs. Since they returned to the field, they haven’t won, losing to the Colts and Bills. They’re now tied for first in their division with two weeks to play.
There are few better ways to get well than against the 2-13 Jaguars, losers of seven straight. Jacksonville has already fired its coach this season and is playing out the string. With COVID cases continuing to climb on both sides, however, “getting well” may not be the right term to use ahead of the Week 17 game in Foxborough.
The season has been a brutal one in Jacksonville, as first-time NFL coach Urban Meyer lost the locker room early and had a string of debacles before the team finally cut ties with him a few weeks ago.
The Jaguars haven’t shown a spark under interim coach Darrell Bevell, losing the last two weeks to the Jets and Texans, two teams who are 5-22 against the rest of the league but have three wins over Jacksonville, by an average of more than 12 points.
Adding injury, or at least illness, to insult, Jacksonville opened Patriots week by placing 10 players on the COVID-19 reserve list. The outbreak also appears to be focusing on a few position groups, pushing the Jags to the limits of their depth.
Jacksonville lost three tight ends—Dan Arnold, Chris Manhertz, and Luke Farrell—five defensive linemen or edge rushers—K’Lavon Chaisson, Lerentee McCray, Malcolm Brown, DaVon Hamilton, and Jihad Ward—and two offensive linemen—Andrew Norwell and Brandon Linder.
The team also lost its most dependable offensive player to a more traditional injury when James Robinson, the team’s leading rusher, tore his Achilles last week. Linebacker Dakota Allen also left last week’s game with a shoulder injury.
Trying to Regain Mojo
The Patriots were rolling, giving up a total of 35 points in the final five games of their winning streak. Over the last two losses, however, New England has surrendered 60 points, falling behind big to Indy and Buffalo and losing both games by double digits.
Jacksonville should help New England get things clicking again. Bill Belichick will be game-planning against inconsistent rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, while his own rookie passer, Mac Jones, will get to face the No. 31 ranked defense in the NFL.
Like virtually everyone else, in and out of sports, the Patriots are contending with the spike in COVID cases that has arrived with December. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson has been on the reserve list, and he was joined on Monday by two more players—linebackers Matthew Judon and Ja'Whaun Bentley.
Three Patriots were removed from the list on Tuesday but two of them are on traditional injured lists as well, so offensive lineman Yasir Durant is the only one that will improve New England’s depth situation.
The team also replaced the players coming off the reserve list with three new cases—backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, linebacker Josh Uche and special teams player Brandon King.
Normally, a late-season game between a division leader and a candidate for the top draft pick would have red flags due to fears of a letdown. Even with a point spread north of two touchdowns, however, this one seems like a safe cover for New England.
The Patriots need to get right again before the playoffs and blowing out Jacksonville should help get them there. New England beat the lowly Jets 25-6 and 54-14, the Panthers 24-6, and the Falcons 25-0, so they aren’t shy about putting the wood to bad teams.
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