Can the Patriots express be derailed tonight?
And before you say it, I know this is a Dolphins blog and I know tonight's game doesn't involve the current Dolphins. How could it? It's a playoff game.
But it does have a tie to the 1972 Dolphins. In fact, if the Patriots lose, the Miami media relations department will e-mail a number of quotes from members of the perfect team talking about the fact they remain the lone unbeatens.
Anyway, I'm thinking that as Dolphins fans, you will have an interest in tonight's game because the Patriots are threatening the remarkable feat accomplished by the Perfect Season team. Am I correct on this? Will you watch, in part, because you want to see if the Pats can be derailed from their roll toward perfection?
Two more questions: Will you be rooting against the Patriots simply because you don't want them to be undefeated as the '72 team was? And do you believe the Jaguars have a legitimate opportunity to beat New England?
I may be naive, but I think the Jaguars have a great chance. I spent two days on my radio show two weeks ago painting a scenario where the Jags beat Pittsburgh and then beat the Patriots. Crazy?
First, I think Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard is the Patriots' nightmare matchup. He does not make a lot of mistakes, as he threw only three interceptions all season, and he can scramble both to evade the pass-rush and even to gain yardage. I know he wasn't great last week against Pittsburgh, throwing two interceptions, but I chalk that up to playoff jitters. He should get over those now.
Secondly, I believe the Jaguars can run on the Patriots. They ran on the Steelers, they can do it on New England. Granted, the Pats will load up to stop the run, but so has everyone else this year against Jacksonville. I believe Jacksonville can wear down the Pats front seven by the second half, if they stick with the run.
That brings up the matchup with New England's offense. The Jags can't be running the ball late in the game if they're trailing by a wide margin. So they MUST contain Randy Moss and Wes Welker and Tom Brady.
Look for former Dolphins cornerback Terry Cousin to be matched against Welker much of the evening. And look for Jacksonville to push the pocket right up the middle against Brady -- this will be a lot harder if John Henderson cannot play.
I don't think Moss can be stopped but if the Jags are hitting Brady during every pass play, his accuracy is nowhere close to his usual 70-74 percent completion rate. The Jaguars have to limit the Patriots to under 30 points. That will be difficult, some say impossible.
I say it's possible. I also say the Jaguars can win this game. Will they?
You tell me.