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Patriots X-Factors against the Jacksonville Jaguars

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NFL: Houston Texans at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots look to pick up another big win against the AFC South when they visit last year’s division winner in the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars battled the Patriots tough in the AFCCG, but ultimately the Patriots thanks to another 4th Quarter comeback by Tom Brady. With both teams heavy favorites to make it back to the postseason, this could be a matchup that decides home field as well as possible byes. While it’s not a MUST WIN for the Patriots, it’s a game that could help set the tone for the season much like last week’s win did.

These will be the guys who could have the largest impact for the team for better or worse:

WR Phillip Dorsett: Dorsett proved to be the X-Factor in the Patriots’ Week 1 win over the Houston Texans, compiling 7 catches on 7 targets for 66 yards and a touchdown as he worked the short and intermediate areas to great success. He will need a repeat performance against the Jaguars, especially when they will be focusing on slow Rob Gronkowski down. Dorsett’s combination of speed, agility, and acceleration could create a favorable matchup against A.J. Bouye on the boundary similar to Brandin Cooks in the AFCCG or attack them from the slot against the Jags’ replacement slot corner. Jacksonville also plays a fair amount of zone, specifically Cover 3, so dual seam routes from the slot and TE could be part of the game plan as well. If Dorsett puts up 5+ catches and a touchdown, I like the Patriots’ chances of starting the season 2-0.

LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: Bentley so far has looked more like a seasoned vet than a rookie in his first preseason and regular season game. The Jaguars will test the rookie in the run and pass game through traditional means and RPOs. I don’t expect Jacksonville to use as many RPO sets in this game compared to the AFCCG given it’s only Week 2, but you never know how these teams scheme up the Patriots. Bentley should be a well-needed upgraded over Elandon Roberts in defending these type plays considering he’s a plus in the run game and adequate enough as an athlete where he’s not a liability in coverage. Once again, Bentley will need to have a solid game as the Jaguars try to stress the LBs with different run schemes and RPOs. Based on what I’ve seen so far from him, Bentley is up to the challenge.