I am a Jets fan, which I’ve shown in previous articles. The Jets are bad, and got worse after the injury to Josh McCown. They’re done and are doing what their original plan was: tank. But, still being a football fan, I’ll talk about the best team in the AFC. That’s the Patriots. They pulled off another miraculous comeback win against the Steelers, thanks to Rob Gronkowski and a classic Big Ben play. The Patriots look primed to make it to the AFC Championship again.
Is there anyone who can stop the Pats from getting yet another AFC crown? There are three teams that the Patriots should look at worrying about down the final stretch of the season. The teams? They’re the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Buffalo Bills. Before you exit the article, let me make the case for each team. They are all good football teams that have their individual reasons in why they could defeat the New England Patriots.
The Case for the Jaguars
“Sacksonville” has applied pressure consistently on any opponent throughout the year and have earned their nickname. They have the most sacks in the league. The Patriots have a decent line, but it is not the best. The cornerbacks in Jacksonville are the best in the league as well, limiting to opponents to just 169 passing yards per game this season. Brandin Cooks, Gronk and Co. will have tough match-ups ahead of them if New England faces the Jags. Blake Bortles is playing consistently, and Leonard Fournette is one of the best backs in the league. The Jags rolled the Texans 45-7, and did not have Allen Hurns, Marquise Lee or Fournette this past week.
The Jags have everything it takes to play in the cold as well: a great defense and a top-tier running back. It will be a challenge for Bill Belichick and the Pats coaching staff to limit the playmakers on both sides of the ball for Jacksonville if the two AFC powerhouse teams face each other this January. If this showdown does occur, NFL fans should buckle up. They are in for a great game.
The Case for the Steelers
Yeah, Gronk dominated the Steelers’ defensive backs. Yes, the Pats held a very good Pittsburgh offense to 24 points. But, if this match-up goes down in January, coach Mike Tomlin may want to look for a solution to Gronk. The task will not be easy, but maybe the Steelers’ staff can muster something up, which should include a double team.
A key piece was missing from this past weekend, and that was Antonio Brown. The greatest receiver in Steelers history should be back come playoff time after tearing his calf muscle in the first quarter. Le’Veon Bell should be there, along with rookie standout JuJu Smith-Schuster, with Martavis Bryant, etc. The Steelers defense is adequate enough to hold the Patriots to under 30, as seen Sunday. That can give the Pittsburgh offense enough room to outscore the Patriots. But it all starts with limiting Gronk, which is the toughest challenge for any defensive coordinator in the NFL today.
The Case for the Bills
Lol. That’s probably the first thought going through anyone who read that I consider the Bills a danger to the Pats. That could be true, but the Bills face the Pats next week, meaning they could get the Pats out of home field advantage. The Bills are also actually in the playoff picture, and winning out would give them a playoff berth. If the Bills happened to play the Patriots for a third time, it’d be in Foxborough. Probably not an ideal location for the Bills, but it’s the hand they are dealt.
Sean McDermott is a good coach, but probably won’t outcoach Belicheck. They would be forced to rely on LeSean McCoy and, I don’t know, actually use that athletic freak they acquired from Carolina? Charles Clay can also be a guy Tyrod Taylor relies upon, like we saw against the Dolphins. The defense of Preston Brown, Micah Hyde and Tre’Davious White will have to try to limit Rob Gronkowski, something that will be very difficult to do for a defense that simply does not have the raw talent to defend a 6’7″ monster.