During their seven-game winning streak between Weeks 7 and 13, the New England Patriots averaged 32.1 points per contest and looked like one of the most potent scoring units in the NFL. Over their last two games, however, they have struggled putting points on the board: New England scored only 17 points against the Indianapolis Colts, and only 21 versus the Buffalo Bills — both ending in defeat.
Going back to their Week 13 matchup versus the Bills, the Patriots have averaged only 17.3 points per game. Obviously, though, all of that came against playoff-caliber opposition and some of the best defensive units the league has to offer.
Week 17 will be different. Week 17 will see the Jacksonville Jaguars come to town. Using our crystal ball as well as numbers provided by DraftKings Sportsbook let’s try to find out if the Patriots offense in particular can get out its recent slump this week.
Patriots: O/U 28.5 points scored
The Patriots may had a hard time on offense in three straight games, but they face a prime opportunity to bounce back and find some momentum again versus Jacksonville. The Jaguars, after all, are not a particularly impressive defensive team.
The unit coordinated by Joe Cullan is ranked 27th in the NFL giving up 26.4 points per game. It is performing slightly better when going against teams currently in the playoff picture — giving up 25.3 points in nine such games — but those numbers are skewed by a 6-point outing against the Buffalo Bills that should be seen as more of an outlier than a representation of the Jaguars’ defensive capabilities.
The fact is, Jacksonville has had a hard time against both the run and especially the pass: the group is ranked 22nd in run-play EPA (-0.054) and only 31st versus pass plays (0.236). It also has registered a league-low seven takeaways and is ranked 23rd in an area the Patriots have struggled in recently: third down (41.7%).
To make matters worse for the Jaguars, they are currently missing multiple starter-level players on the Covid-19 list — a group that includes virtually the entire linebacker room: Myles Jack, Josh Allen, Damien Wilson, K’Lavon Chaisson and Jihad Ward. There is a chance they return in time for the game under the league’s new protocols, but even if they do the situation is far from ideal.
Add an offense that is in a similar situation and will be going up against a Patriots defense with plenty to prove and you can see why the Jaguars are in a tough spot entering Week 17.