The Patriots face a tough late-season road test against Jacksonville this week with an opportunity to clinch the AFC East division title with a victory. The Jaguars, also contending for a spot in the AFC playoffs, have been one of the NFL's best teams at home, sporting a 6-1 record at Alltel Stadium while allowing visitors a league-low 9.1 points per game. The Jaguars' second-ranked rushing offense and third-ranked rushing defense will provide a difficult challenge for New England's corresponding units as the Patriots seek their fourth straight division title.
The Patriots can clinch the 2006 AFC East title with one win or tie in their last two games (at Jacksonville, at Tennessee) or one loss or tie by the New York Jets in their last two games (at Miami, vs. Oakland). The Patriots (10-4) lead the secondplace Jets (8-6) by two games in the AFC East standings with two games to play. The Patriots have won a franchise-record three straight AFC East titles and have won four of the last five division crowns dating back to 2001. New England has won six division titles in the 12 full seasons since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994.
The Patriots and Jaguars will meet for the seventh time overall and for the first time since New England claimed a 28-3 win in the first round of last season's playoffs. The Patriots have won all three of the regular-season games between the clubs, including a 27-13 victory in the 2003 season at Gillette Stadium. The Jaguars will visit Foxborough for the fifth time, with the Patriots having won all four previous games against the teams in New England. Three of the six previous games between the teams have been playoff games, including the 1996 AFC Championship Game at Foxboro Stadium. In that contest, the Patriots beat the Jaguars 20-6 to advance to Super Bowl XXXI. The Jaguars claimed a 25-10 win in the 1998 wild card playoffs. In addition to their regular season and playoff games, the teams have met once in preseason play, with the Jaguars claiming a 31-0 victory in the final game of the 2004 preseason on Sept. 2, 2004.
The Patriots have an all-time record of 70-43-1 (.618) against the teams that make up the AFC South. It is the only division in the NFL where the Patriots own a winning record against each team. New England owns winning marks against Tennessee (20-16-1), Indianapolis (43-26), Jacksonville (5-1) and Houston (2-0). New England has won 10 of its last 12 games against AFC South teams. The Patriots play each of the four AFC South teams this season as part of the NFL's scheduling rotation. New England fell to Indianapolis, 27-20 on Nov. 5 and defeated Houston, 40-7 on Dec. 17.
In winning five of six total contests in the series, the Patriots have won 83 percent of their games against the Jaguars. The only other teams against which the Patriots have won at least 80 percent of their games are the Baltimore Ravens (3-0) and Houston Texans (2-0).
The Jaguars are one of just four teams against which the Patriots own an undefeated home record (4-0). The Patriots are 2-0 at home against Baltimore, 3-0 against Chicago and 1- 0 against Houston.
The Patriots will play their final two contests on the road (at Jacksonville and at Tennessee). New England is one of just three NFL teams to play each of its last two games on the road (also Arizona and Carolina).
The Patriots have scored 321 points this season while the Jaguars have scored 320 points.
The game features two of the league's stingiest defenses, with the Patriots ranking second in the NFL in allowing just 13.8 points per game and the Jaguars ranking fourth in allowing 15.4 points per contest. Jacksonville is the league's top home defense, allowing just 64 points through seven home games (9.1 points per game).
Tom Brady will face off against the Jaguars for the third time in his career. In his two previous games against Jacksonville, he has compiled passer ratings of more than 100.0, achieving a 103.6 rating in the 2003 regular season and a 116.4 rating against the Jaguars in last year's playoffs. Jaguars signal caller David Garrard has played in one game against the Patriots in his career, appearing in last year's playoff game in relief of Byron Leftwich.