That’s part of the reason they have made it so far, and it’s why the Patriots will handle their business — New England won’t overlook Jacksonville in the AFC title game the way Pittsburgh did in the divisional round. And it’ll have the same attitude against its Super Bowl opponent.
Given the Patriots’ season-opening loss to the Chiefs on national TV and their shaky start to the season defensively, it’s easy to forget this is a team some thought had a legitimate chance to go undefeated in 2017. The defending Super Bowl champion only got stronger with offseason additions, and Tom Brady, even at age 40, is still playing at an All-Pro level. Trust Bill Belichick’s team to do its job. — T.H.
The Bucs are home against the Falcons; Evans had six catches for 78 yards at Atlanta in Week 12. The pundits are out in full force and are against playing Evans this weekend. His owners probably don’t have the luxury of sitting him, even if they have been getting by with his limited production. Perhaps some owners drafted extremely well or picked up other wideouts to provide depth along the way. While Evans is 24th among wide receivers in scoring, when it’s all said and done, he’s too risky to bench. On even very talented rosters, Evans would be in the mix for WR2 and/or flex spots.
Brady was facing a Jacksonville pass defense that was better statistically than what Denver (in the 2013 and 2015 AFC championships) and Seattle (in Super Bowl 49) have had in recent years. He played with a cut in his throwing hand, with little support from his running backs and, for most of the game, without Rob Gronkowski. Brady did it in the face of a ferocious front four pass rush. He did it against a fast back seven that can cover everything.
The Jaguars’ lead was not as big as that of the Falcons, but it was more daunting with much less time. The Patriots had only 10 points before their comeback Sunday and had been completely shut down in the third quarter.
Mayfield may not be seen universally as a surefire prospect, but if enough teams become enamored, he could be plucked early.
“I could see those type of guys falling in love with Baker, and those guys spent time around [Brett] Favre,” Klatt said. “They seek Baker’s ability to improvise and play with unnatural confidence, and they see Favre. That’s what Andy Reid saw in Mahomes, so he moved up and got him. The Brett Favre tree of coaches, the [former Packers coach Mike] Holmgren tree, those ones that will love Baker Mayfield.”