Even though they've won 10 games, the Patriots aren't dominating. Heck, they still haven't won their division officially although one win in the final two weeks will accomplish that mission. Bill Belichick knows the Patriots have their hands full with this game. Even though the Jaguars have been disappointments on the road, they are tough to beat in Alltel Stadium. At home, their defense is tough to run on and their coverage skills against the pass improve. Jack Del Rio has built this team like the Ravens team that won the Super Bowl. It's big along the offensive line and has speed at linebackers. Tom Brady has extra motivation this week because he didn't make the Pro Bowl. Brady's been playing with a little anger this season. He lost two of his best receivers -- Deion Branch and David Givens -- and his frustration has come out at times when his remaining receivers don't get open. Belichick's defense might have exceeded expectations, though. Even though Richard Seymour was the Patriots' only Pro Bowl selection, New England has given up only 13.8 points a game. Knowing the Jaguars have surrendered only 15.4 points a game, this figures to be a low-scoring, physical football game executed at a playoff level of intensity.
Nick Saban is known for being able to design pressure packages on defense, but the folks at Alabama might have come up with a more relentless scheme. They won't take no for an answer. They want to talk to Saban as soon as the regular season is over. Saban has been professional and keeps saying he isn't interesting in the Alabama job, but the Crimson Tide still doesn't have a coach and the rumors persist. Last week's shutout loss to the Bills all but killed any hopes of the Dolphins' making the playoffs so the team is playing for pride and with a certain amount of fear. The fear factor involves Saban, who runs a tough practice and isn't afraid to show his displeasure. Losing to the Bills hurt. Losing to the Jets would hurt even more. If the Jets beat the Dolphins, there becomes an increasingly good chance the Jets could win out and go the playoffs That would mean Eric Mangini and Dick Jauron took over teams in Saban's division after him and produced better teams. Saban won't stand for that.