JACKSONVILLE –The Jaguars travel to Foxboro for the AFC Championship at Gillette Stadium this Sunday at 3:05 p.m. Here are the statistics you need to know and how they affect this championship matchup:
- Win the Turnover Game: Last Sunday, quarterback Blake Bortles recorded zero turnovers on his stat sheet, marking the eighth time he has achieved the feat this season, including the postseason. The Jaguars are 8-0 in these games. On the opposite side of the ball, the Jaguars defense has created takeaways and have won the turnover battle in each of the two postseason games so far. On Sunday, the offense will need to keep ball protection a priority, while the defense will look to force interceptions and fumbles. To defeat the Patriots, look for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to be aggressive in seeking his fifth sack-fumble turned into a touchdown this season.
- Run Strong: In the Divisional round against Pittsburgh, the Jaguars ran on 57.4 percent of their offensive plays, including a game high 25 rushes for 109 yards and three rushing touchdowns by running back Leonard Fournette. This marked the second consecutive game the Jaguars ran the ball at least 57 percent of the plays. This season, the Jaguars are 8-0 when rushing on at least 55 percent of their offensive plays in a game, including the postseason. The Patriots were the 20th-best run defense. Look for the Jaguars to try and get Fournette going early in route to another big day.
- Defense Likes TDs, too: In 18 games this season, the Jaguars defense has scored eight defensive touchdowns, the most in the NFL. Last Sunday, Ngakoue recorded a sack-fumble on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which second-team All-Pro linebacker Telvin Smith recovered and returned 50 yards for a touchdown. Jacksonville’s eight defensive touchdowns are the most by one team, including the postseason, since Chicago in 2012 (nine). If the Jaguars were to score another defensive touchdown this Sunday, they would be one of six teams to total nine defensive touchdowns in a season since 1990. A defensive touchdown on Sunday would surely be a game changer.
- Road Warriors: Including the regular season and postseason, the Jaguars have won five road games, the fourth-most in franchise history. The Jaguars are 7 in the turnover margin on the road, including 22 takeaways in nine road games, marking the most in the NFL and the most in a season in franchise history. All of Jacksonville’s eight defensive touchdowns this season have been on the road, which are the most road defensive touchdowns by an NFL team since the 1970 merger. While the Jaguars have a 0-7 record when traveling to Foxboro, these statistics and this aggressive defense could turn the tides for the franchise starting on Sunday.
- Started from the Bottom, Now We’re Here: After the Divisional round victory against Pittsburgh, the Jaguars have tied the NFL record for fewest wins in a season prior to qualifying for a conference championship game the next season. The 2016 Jaguars, the 2005 Saints and the 1966 Oilers all won three games before making a conference championship appearance the following season. The Jaguars also became the 10th team to beat Pittsburgh in the regular season and playoffs in the same season. Of those previous nine teams, seven went on to the Super Bowl. Will the stars align for the eighth time? Stay tuned…
Jaguars public relations assistant Gaby Moran is back for the postseason to offer five key stats about the Jaguars heading into the AFC Championship game. You can follow her on Twitter @gabsmoran.