The New England Patriots will attempt to reach the Super Bowl for the 10th time in franchise history when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game.
Much of the build-up to the game has surrounded a throwing-hand injury to quarterback Tom Brady sustained in practice this week.
Brady is seeking to win a sixth Super Bowl title but will face a Jaguars team that boasts arguably the best defense in the NFL and is coming off a stunning 45-42 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here, with the help of Opta numbers, we look at some of the best statistics surrounding an extremely intriguing matchup.
HOME SWEET HOME FOR NEW ENGLAND
Homefield advantage could be especially key to New England. The Patriots have a 10-1 record all time when facing the Jaguars (including playoffs). Their lone loss came in 1999 at Jacksonville in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
Furthermore, since 2000 the Patriots are 18-3 in the playoffs at home , a winning percentage of 85.7, the second best in the league (min. seven games) over that span (Seattle 10-1, 90.9 per cent).
But the Jaguars proved themselves a force to be reckoned with on the road by beating the Steelers. Though they are 4-5 all-time in the playoffs when playing on the road, they are 2-1 in their last three road playoff games , with both wins coming against Pittsburgh.
Regardless of his injured hand, Brady can ill-afford to turn the ball over against a Jaguars defense that has scored eight touchdowns this season (including playoffs), the most in the NFL.
Key to Jacksonville's hopes of stopping Brady will be pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue , the defensive end is just the third defensive lineman since the 2007 season with at least 12 sacks and six forced fumbles in a season .
On the other side of the ball for Jacksonville, the focal point looks to be running back Leonard Fournette , who against the Steelers became just the third rookie in NFL history to rush for three touchdowns in a playoff game , and the first since Ryan Grant for the Green Bay Packers in 2008.
Brady has spoken of a desire to play well into his forties, and his performance in the Divisional round win over the Tennessee Titans suggested he has every chance of doing so. Brady threw for 337 yards, the most ever by a quarterback in their forties in a playoff game . He also became the oldest quarterback ever to win a playoff game.
If the Titans game is any evidence, then Danny Amendola could well be pivotal to the Patriots' prospects of having success against Jacksonville's defence. The wide receiver caught 11 passes for 112 yards last week, both postseason career-highs for him.
But all signs point to Rob Gronkowski continuing to be Brady's favourite target. The tight end last week caught his 10th career touchdown in the postseason, tied for the third most all time .
20 de febrero 2018
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