5 things you have to know about Jaguars

September 21, 2015 - 8:46 pm
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[caption id="attachment_97809" align="alignright" width="350"]Blake Bortles threw for two touchdowns last week against the Dolphins.  (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Blake Bortles threw for two touchdowns last week against the Dolphins. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)[/caption] Five things you have to know about the Jaguars, who will face the Patriots Sunday at Gillette Stadium: 1. They're in first place. The first-place Jacksonville Jaguars. In the wake of their win over Miami and the Monday night loss by the Colts, Jacksonville finds itself in first place in the AFC South. (Technically, the Jags are tied with the Titans at 1-1, but first place is first place.) According to Bill Barnwell, the Jags are in first for the first time since Week 14 of the 2010 season -- that's 73 weeks worth of NFL action. 2. Blake Bortles is coming off the best professional game of his career. The second-year signal-caller out of Central Florida wasn't overwhelming against the Dolphins -- and he got a gift in the form of a stupid penalty in the final moments of the game from Miami's Olivier Vernon -- but he put together what was likely the finest sixty minutes of his career. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Bortles finished 18-for-33 for 273 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Coming off one of the best preseason stat lines in the NFL this summer (he was 39-for-60 for a 65 percent completion rate, to go along with 461 yards with one touchdown), it represents a positive start to the 2015 season for Bortles, who has gone 43-for-70 for 456 yards with a 55 percent completion rate and three touchdowns and two interceptions in two games. The quarterback isn't known as a scrambler, but he's certainly capable of making plays with his feet when things start to break down, as he has 53 rushing yards in two games. (Last season, he was fourth among all quarterbacks with 419 rushing yards.) If he's able to put together a competitive effort against the Patriots on Sunday, Jacksonville fans might forgive him for this faux pas. 3. Their running game is a bit dicey right now. Denard Robinson is now out for several weeks with a knee issue and Toby Gerhart is still attempting to work through an abdominal strain, and so it's a little unclear how things are going to shake out for the Jags' running game going forward. Rookie T.J. Yeldon (121 yards through two games, but just 3.3 yards per carry) has done OK, and appears to be the best possible option to take the bulk of the reps Sunday against the Patriots. In addition, veteran Bernard Pierce (3 carries, 4 yards) and youngster Corey Grant could be in for more work with Robinson and Gerhart on the sidelines. (The Jags might be reticent to use Grant, however, as he's also Jacksonville's No. 1 kick returner.) In the passing game, Jacksonville leans on wide receivers Allen Robinson (7 catches on 18 targets for 182 yards and 2 TDs), Rashad Greene (9 catches on 17 targets for 35 yards and 1 TD) and Allen Hurns (9 catches on 11 targets for 128 yards), while Yeldon (6 catches on 8 targets for 29 yards) is also a possibility to see some action. Robinson in particular is coming off a big week, as he had 6 catches for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Dolphins. While he practiced on a limited basis last week, tight end Julius Thomas, who was the big free-agent pickup in the offseason (via Denver) has not played to this point in the season because of a hand issue. 4. Linebacker Paul Posluszny is the guy who pretty much drives the bus on defense. The 31-year-old veteran leads the Jags with 15 tackles and a pick through two games, both good for tops on the team. (Posluszny is the only guy on the roster with an interception.) He also gets a hand from fellow linebacker Telvin Smith. Jacksonville has three players with one sack each, including veteran defensive end Jared Odrick, who looked feisty last week in helping the Jaguars knock off his old team, the Dolphins. (The 6-foot-5, 301-pounder also has a pass defensed an a forced fumble in two games.) On the back end, the secondary enters the week in rough shape: Safety Johnathan Cyprien and nickel corner Dwayne Gratz were sidelined going into last week's game, and the Jags also lost No. 1 corner Davon House and fellow defensive back Aaron Colvin at various points throughout the contest against the Dolphins because of mostly heat-related maladies. It's not known where they are health-wise coming into this game, but it goes without saying that the Jaguars need to be healthy across the board for this one -- particularly when it comes to going against Tom Brady and the Patriots passing game. 5. Sergio Brown might make things spicy this week. The former Patriots defensive back has a history with the folks in Foxboro for a couple of incidents when he was with the Colts. Initially, he will be remembered as the one who Rob Gronkowski was blocking on an extra point in 2012. In 2014, Gronkowski got a sizable measure of revenge when he blocked him into a camera well on a play in a Sunday night game in Indy, later saying that the 6-foot-2, 207-pounder was yapping so much he had to "throw him out of the club." (Brown then took to Twitter to defend himself, but later deleted the Tweets.) Brown hasn't made any statements about Gronkowski or the Patriots to this point in the week, but there's still plenty of time between now and kickoff on Sunday afternoon. DraftKings DraftKings has your shot to play for FREE in the $1 Million Fantasy Football Contest THIS SUNDAY! First place takes home $100,000! FOR FREE ENTRY, CLICK HERE.