BOSTON (CBS) — In what is becoming an annual tradition here in New England, the Patriots will play for a trip to the Super Bowl on Sunday afternoon.

The Patriots are in their seventh straight AFC Championship Game, playing host for the fifth time in that span. On Sunday, they welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars to Gillette Stadium with a trip to Super Bowl LII in Minnesota on the line.

The top-seeded Patriots come in as heavy favorites, though the line has shifted slightly since Tom Brady hurt his hand in practice on Wednesday. The injury adds another level of intrigue to Sunday’s matchup, as the Patriots have remained pretty tight-lipped about the situation.

It’s a battle between a great offense and a great defense. One team is looking to add another chapter to their storied dynasty while the other is battling for their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Here is how the WBZ-TV sports team sees Sunday’s AFC title bout playing out at Gillette Stadium:

Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports

Let’s start with the fact that the Patriots are 10-1 overall against the Jaguars. Let’s keep in mind that the game is in Foxboro, where the Patriots are 21-4 in the postseason. And let’s not forget that this is New England’s seventh straight AFC Championship Game. Jacksonville has only been to three, total.

More Predictions: CBS Local Experts Pick Conference Championship Games

But here’s the but (and it’s a big one): If Tom Brady’s right hand is swollen or sore on Sunday, that is a game-changer. The Patriots will still win, but it will be a much tighter and closer contest.

Patriots 28, Jaguars 17

Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports

After spending some time in Jacksonville this week, the Jaguars appear to be a team that isn’t fazed at all about the task at hand. They are a young squad that is maybe here a little bit early (about a year ahead of their grand scheme), which may help. They show no fear of facing Belichick, Brady and company.

As for the Pats, it’s all on Brady, his hand, and how effective he can be. Both these teams have faced and defeated Buffalo, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh down the stretch, with the Pats showing a little more dominance. The Pats are home, and it’s never easy for a team to come in and win at Gillette.

Patriots 27, Jaguars 21

Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports

Here we are, the AFC championship Game and the Pats are big favorites again. As they should be.

I know a lot of people are loving this Jacksonville defense and they deserve the accolades. They get after the quarterback and they cause turnovers. But they have flaws. This same defense lost to Tennessee twice, and just a few weeks ago, watched Jimmy Garoppolo put up 44 points. Just last week, the Steelers hung 42 points on them in the Divisional Round.

This is not the same defense as the Ravens in the past or even the Broncos, defenses that could carry their team to victory. This defense needs some help from their offense and that’s where the Pats will make a difference.

The New England defense will play lights out on Sunday and the offense will do more than enough to separate from the Jaguars.

Patriots win 28-10 to advance to Super Bowl LII against the Eagles, who will beat the Vikings 17-14 over in the NFC.

You can catch Sunday’s Patriots-Jaguars AFC Championship Game on WBZ-TV — the flagship station of the New England Patriots.  Pregame coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with a special 90-minute edition of Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 3:05 p.m., and after the game get all the reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter.


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