JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Micky from Section 408:
As long as they keep referring to our wins and future wins as upsets we should feel disrespected. In that regard, it seems we are still very much a secret. We are not Cinderella; we are the AFC South Champs with a dominating defense and the No. 1 rushing attack in the league. We don't upset opponents; we crush them!! :)
John: Longtime O-Zone readers – and he knows who he is – know I'm not big on worrying about what national-media types, fans and anyone else say about the Jaguars. My feeling is respect and recognition come with winning, and that's definitely the case. If the Jaguars follow this run to the AFC Championship with a solid season next season, you will see the respect grow accordingly. Respect and acknowledgment in the NFL is often a delayed reaction, with Twitter geniuses and national media of equal aptitude sometimes the last to grasp reality. But I will say the reaction of some observers, including many who follow the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been a bit laughable this week. There is a theme among many that somehow the best two teams in the AFC aren't playing Sunday. This is an absurd, ignorant notion. The Jaguars clinched the No. 3 seed in the AFC with pretty much two games remaining in the regular season; they were not the No. 6 seed and did not in any way "sneak" into the playoffs. They also beat the No. 2 seed twice, with neither game particularly close; the Jaguars won by 21 in Pittsburgh in the regular season, and their lead over the Steelers from early in the second quarter this past Sunday was between seven and 21 points until a meaningless touchdown with :01 remaining. The Jaguars by any measure were clearly at least the second best team in the AFC this season. I don't know if they were the best team in the AFC or not. I do know we won't know the answer either way until Sunday.
Glen from Orange Park, FL:
Looking at the production/rankings of each teams' offense and defense, the one thing that stands out is New England's defense is 29th overall. Would it really be an upset if the more balanced team – with a superior defense, dare I say elite championship-level defense; and a Top 6 offense – wins? Was it an upset last week when the team that won by three touchdowns in an earlier meeting won?
John: I believe the Jaguars will win Sunday. I've said that often this week because I believe it and I'll probably say it a few more times before the week is out. Still, the Jaguars winning would be an upset because the vast majority of people, observers, media, etc., believe the Patriots will win. And the Patriots indeed should be favored. They had the AFC's best record and they earned home-field advantage. As far as the Patriots' defensive ranking, don't be fooled by that. Yes, they have allowed big yardage this season, but a lot of that was early in the season. The Patriots play very good defense in the red zone, and they don't allow a lot of points. The Jaguars' offense could be able to move the ball Sunday. Can they score close to the end zone? That could be a key Sunday.
David from Broward County, FL:
O-Man, all year it seems the Jags have had three running backs active, with either T.J. Yeldon or Chris Ivory being a healthy scratch. Do you think they keep all four active this week? I think they might need it more at running back this week than some other position.
John: I think this answer will depend on their confidence in running back Leonard Fournette's ankle. If they believe he can make it through the game, I believe they will have Fournette, Yeldon and Corey Grant active. If they are worried about him making it through the game, I believe they will activate Ivory. I would anticipate Ivory being inactive.
Bill from Ponte Vedra, FL:
John: Thank you for your help. It's awesome and appreciated. Either Foxboro or Foxborough is acceptable. Some years I like to write Foxboro. Some years I like to write Foxborough. But if it bothers you, I'll tell you what: I'll keep using Foxboro.
Marcus from St. Augustine, FL:
Will Fournette's injury have a serious impact in his playing time against the Patriots? We have other good running backs such as Chris Ivory and Y.J. Yeldon, but not quite as good.
John: We'll see.
C from Jacksonville:
Remember this past summer when Malik Jackson said we were going to the Super Bowl??? Mmmhmmm
John: He's not right yet. What few would have guessed is he's not yet wrong.
Ray from Newport News, VA:
Mighty O-Man: Let's talk about the draft. No, wait. I think we are still playing football... wait it is January … this can't be. #DTWD. So pumped and excited, everyone I know is congratulating me for being a fan since the beginning and it feels awesome. I know you will make a prediction later this week but we need it now. Do the Jags win? My gut says yes. My heart and mind are still undecided.
John: I sometimes make a prediction on the Jaguars' game and sometimes I don't. I have said for several weeks I think the Jaguars match up well against the Patriots, and I said Monday I believe the Jaguars will win. I said it again Tuesday. And Wednesday. And …
Jaan from St. Augustine, FL:
Hi John: I think Corey Grant has been underutilized. He is fast as can be and has great moves. In a game like the one we have against New England, we could use all the weapons we have.
John: I expected the Jaguars to use Corey Grant in the offense against Pittsburgh. The Jaguars ran effectively with Fournette and never used Grant. I expect they could use Grant to get another speed weapon in the offense. I was wrong before, so we'll see …
Tristan from Jacksonville:
I just wanted to say I have been a Jags fan my whole life, growing up halfway across the country in Iowa. I moved to Jacksonville this year, mostly because of the Jags. I attended every single home game including preseason, and I will be making my way to Boston this weekend to cheer on our beloved Jaguars. Dreams do come true!! DTWD!!!!
Julio from Southern California:
Mr. O: The Patriots always try to expose your weakness. Where do you think they will TRY to expose the Jags?
John: I expect they will try to beat the Jaguars using short, quick timing passes – and I expect them to consider whoever is covering tight end Rob Gronkowski an exploitable area of the defense.
Jonathan from New York City:
Practically every team homepage has the score of last game near the top. Any reason why our Jags site does not?
John: Did you forget the score?
Rob from Jacksonville:
Is it crazy to think that we might actually match up against New England better than Pittsburgh? New England's line isn't nearly as good as Pittsburgh's offensive line. And the Steelers also have arguably the best running back and wide receiver in football, which the Patriots do not have.
John: The Patriots have Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, and players of that level have a way of being their own major matchup advantage.
Scott from Rehoboth Beach, DE:
O-man, do you think Bill Belichick is watching a lot of film from the Titans' games against our Jaguars? They seem to have the blueprint when comes to defeating us. Is there anyway we can destroy these so-called blueprints?! I'm so scared yet extremely excited!!! #DTWD
John: I'm sure Belichick will watch the Titans' victories over the Jaguars. I'm sure he'll also watch the video from the San Francisco 49ers' victory over the Jaguars in December. There's no way to destroy the blueprints, but there is a way for the Jaguars to break tendencies and to do their own film study. I suspect they will do just that.
Jim from Sunnyvale CA:
"I suggest we adopt the term 'grit' as a way to define ourselves ..." --Jaguars Executive VP Football Operations Tom Coughlin
John: Good thought, Tom.
Henry from Florahome, FL:
I've seen quite a few teams load up on high-priced "big-name" free agents and not be successful because of egos, scheme, etc. The Jags' free agents this year aren't really top-shelf, break-the-bank guys, but they play well together. Does David Caldwell still select most of the talent or Tom Coughlin? Side note: if Bortles doesn't put that plastic thing in his mouth, he's going to bite his tongue off.
John: If Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson and A.J. Bouye didn't break the bank I want to be friends with the guy who does break the bank. Like really good friends. And then I could borrow money. Or he could just give me a lot.
O-Zone: Friendly sort
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Micky from Section 408: