QB Tom Brady
If you can invent a reason to bench Brady during a week that most leagues play for their championship, more power to ya. The Jags haven’t been a train wreck against the pass, but it’s hard to envision a way they can hold Brady under 300 yards and 2-3 scores.
WRs Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd
Brady’s growing chemistry with Lloyd has been one of the underreported stories of the past few weeks, and it looks like they are finally in sync. Look for Lloyd to grab 6 passes for over 80 yards and a score. Welker has been fighting a bad case of the dropsies the past few weeks, but Brady has still looked his way often (the first half of Sunday night’s game notwithstanding). I think he’ll put up north of 70 yards, but a score is always a dicey proposition for Welker since others present better red zone targets.
RBs Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden
While some Bills fans may take umbrage, I think the Jags have the league’s worst run defense. Only Buffalo has given up more TDs on the ground, and nobody has given up more yards to opposing running backs. Ridley’s pair of fumbles and the loss of the inside track for a first round bye could open the door for more carries for other complimentary players, but I still think he plows ahead for 100 yards and a score against Jacksonville. Woodhead should see plenty of action again after a strong performance against the Niners, so you can pencil him in for at least 50 yards and a decent shot at crossing the stripe. And if the Pats go up big, Vereen and Bolden could see plenty of work late in the game to salt away the lead as well. I wouldn’t shy away from using either in a flex position if I was desperate.
TE Aaron Hernandez
Hernandez has been a stud for several consecutive weeks, and I can’t imagine the Jags will find a way to shut him down in this contest. He’s a safe bet to find the end zone, and he could eclipse 100 yards receiving.
New England Defense/Special Teams
In the past 8 games, the Jaguars have failed to score more than 18 points on six occasions. They’ve given up 42 sacks this season. If you have the Pats’ D, start them with confidence and bank on them allowing fewer than 20 points and getting to the quarterback early and often. Think 2-3 sacks and at least one turnover.