(cheers and hat tip to Rob L for the e-mail tip on this)
The Jaguars past three games have come at the Tennessee Titans, versus the Buffalo Bills, and at the Pittsburgh Steelers going 2-1. Three of the Patriots past four games have also come against the Titans, Bills, and at the Steelers and they went 3-0 (with the fourth game being the season finale against the New York Jets where the Patriots were able to rest their starters).
It’s pretty rare for two playoffs teams to play roughly the same exact schedule leading up to their game and it’s not an unreasonable way to measure how the two teams stack up with one another.
In those three games:
- The Jaguars scored 65 points and allowed 60, while the Patriots scored 99 and allowed 53. That’s a major edge of 13.7 point differential per game for the Patriots.
- The Jaguars gained 435 passing yards and 402 rushing yards in those game for a total of 837 yards. The Patriots gained 838 passing yards alone in addition to 371 rushing yards for a total of 1,209 yards from scrimmage. That’s a huge edge of 124 yards per game for the Patriots.
- The Jaguars allowed 711 passing yards and 329 rushing yards for a total of 1,040 yards from scrimmage. The Patriots allowed 714 passing yards and 292 rushing yards for 1,006 yards from scrimmage. That’s a smaller edge of 11.3 yards per game, but it’s still in favor of New England.
- The Jaguars forced five takeaways and turned the ball over four times for a +1 turnover margin. The Patriots only forced one turnover and gave it up twice for a -1 turnover margin, so this goes in Jacksonville’s favor.
- According to the expected points added model, the Jaguars were roughly 4.2 points below average on offense and 15.7 points above average on defense. As a team, they were 11.5 points above average, so they were still an above-average team.
- The Patriots, however, were 61.9 points above average on offense and 7.1 points below average on defense, and 54.8 points above average. That’s a monster edge for New England.
So against the same there opponents over the past month, the Patriots were better than the Jaguars at scoring points, better at preventing points, better at gaining yards, and better at preventing yards. The Jaguars were better in the turnover battle.
Will this have any bearing on Sunday’s game? Probably not. But it definitely shows that the Patriots are the rightful favorites based on how they’ve fared against similar opponents.