1:00 PM ET, December 24, 2006
EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL
New England (10-4) at Jacksonville (8-6) Sunday 1:00 pm EST
The Patriots can clinch their fourth straight AFC East title with a win over the Jaguars on Sunday or a loss by the New York Jets, who visit Miami on Christmas Day.
The Jaguars can also seal their second straight postseason berth with wins in their last two games against New England and at Kansas City. Jacksonville is tied with Cincinnati, Denver and the New York Jets for the two wild-card spots.
Tom Brady threw for 201 yards and three touchdowns and cornerback Asante Samuel scored on a 73-yard interception return to lead the Patriots to a 28-3 triumph over the Jaguars in last season's playoff contest.
A two-time Super Bowl MVP, Brady has extra incentive for this game after not being selected to the Pro Bowl. Peyton Manning was named as the starting quarterback and Carson Palmer of Cincinnati and Philip Rivers of San Diego were selected as the AFC reserves ahead of Brady, who has passed for more yards and touchdowns than Rivers.
The Jaguars are 5-3 since Garrard took over as the starter, although the team relies on a rushing offense which ranks second in the league.
Jacksonville is 6-1 at home, yielding just 9.1 points per game.
The Patriots have allowed an average of 13.8 points this season, ranking second to Baltimore (13.4).
Last week, the Patriots intercepted David Carr four times and Brady passed for two touchdowns in a 40-7 win over Houston.
Samuel is tied for the league lead with eight interceptions, but was not selected to the Pro Bowl. The only member of the Patriots named was defensive end Richard Seymour, who earned his fifth Pro Bowl berth in his six-year career.
The only member of the Jags to make the Pro Bowl was cornerback Rashean Mathis, who was selected for the first time.
Last week, the Jaguars nearly quadrupled Tennessee in yards, 396-98, but lost to the Titans, 24-17, thanks to three turnovers by Garrard that were returned for touchdowns. Adam "Pacman" Jones and Chris Hope scored on interception returns of 83 and 61 yards, respectively, and rookie Cortland Finnegan picked up a fumble by Garrard and returned it 92 yards for a score.
Rookie Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 98 yards on 25 carries and caught three passes for 47 yards for the Jaguars. Taylor gained 37 yards on two carries before leaving with a hamstring injury.
More from ESPN.com
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Jaguars working without safety net
New England is coming off a strong win over Houston and wants to build some momentum going into the playoffs. Jacksonville, meanwhile, has its backs to the wall and can't afford to lose another game if it hopes to earn a wild-card spot. After losing to the Titans in spite of dominating the Titans in virtually every statistical category, the Jaguars are going to have to find a way to avoid turnovers and go back to their roots, the ground game.
Head coach Jack Del Rio should have the Jaguars frothing at the mouth and playing with great intensity in their last home game. Perhaps no coach in the league can prepare his team for a single game like New England's Bill Belichick, who will be looking for a way to confuse quarterback David Garrard into making bad decisions like he did to Houston's David Carr this past Sunday.
Recent Blog Posts
|Avg Points Allowed||14.3||15.9|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NE|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NE|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|New England leads 3-0|
|Jan 7, 2006||NE 28, JAX 3|
|Dec 14, 2003||NE 27, JAX 13|