Jan 18, 2018 at 8:53a ET
In his preview of the AFC Championship Game between New England and Jacksonville, Cris Carter explains to Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe why Brandin Cooks could be the X-factor for Tom Brady's Patriots against Blake Bortles' Jaguars.
CRIS CARTER: I just believe that in New England this game sets up for the running backs to have big days. So you say who should Jacksonville be worried about? Who will New England concentrate? I believe that Gronk in a big game is always going to get five to eight major targets in the game. So you always have to stop Gronk.
CRIS CARTER: But it's a matter of who is that other player or two? And that being Dion Lewis or James White. Both of them being healthy. I look for them to try to force feed them the football. And I believe that New England, they know that they can't potentially run on Jacksonville, but they might run on them just to slow down the rush. But also, Brandin Cooks was brought to New England for a game like today. And can he–
– How come?
CRIS CARTER: Get open deep against man-to-man pressure? Tom Brady, for a long, long time has wanted a deep threat. All right? And that's what Brandin Cooks, that's his specialty. Now you don't want to get in a short dink and dunk with Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan and Amendola against the corners of Jacksonville. If you're going to throw the ball to them, you need to throw the ball down the field. And I believe it's harder for New England to win if they don't get those big plays. Gronk's going to do what he normally does. But if Brandin Cooks is not explosive, I believe it becomes very, very difficult for New England to be able to fend off that great defense.
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