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The New England Patriots, the No. 1 seed in the AFC, will be home in a divisional playoff game next Saturday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the lowest remaining seed in the conference.
"We've kind of been spending, I would say, of the three possible opponents, most of our time on Jacksonville," the Patriots coach said Sunday night, "given the fact that we played Pittsburgh a month ago and we played Tennessee earlier in the season."
New England beat Tennessee in an exhibition game and Pittsburgh in Game 13.
The Patriots, the only team in NFL history with a 16-0 regular-season record, drew a bye in the first playoff weekend.
With two days off, their players watched and waited to see who their first opponent would be — the lowest remaining seed after Saturday's game between No. 4 Pittsburgh and No. 5 Jacksonville and Sunday's game between No. 3 San Diego and No. 6 Tennessee.
Jacksonville and San Diego won.
The Jaguars came from behind to win 31-29 at Pittsburgh on Josh Scobee's 25-yard field goal with 37 seconds left. That was set up by a 32-yard run by quarterback David Garrard on a fourth-and-2 play.
"He looks pretty good to me," Belichick said in a conference call about 30 minutes after San Diego's game ended. "He's a hard guy to get down in the pocket. He throws the ball accurately down the field, intermediate throws."
Last season, the Patriots won at Jacksonville 24-21 in their 15th game to clinch their fourth consecutive AFC East title.
"They're a different team than we played down there last year, starting with Fred Taylor," Belichick said. "We didn't see him last year."
Taylor missed the game with a hamstring injury. Now he and Maurice Jones-Drew form the toughest running duo the Patriots will have faced all season.
On Saturday, Jones-Drew scored on a 43-yard pass play and a 10-yard run. He also returned a kickoff 96 yards to set up Taylor's 1-yard scoring run.
"The (Jaguars) are very physical," Belichick said. "Any team that runs the ball as well as they do and stops the run as well as they do, they're able to do a real good job on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball."
The Jaguars rushed for the second most yards in the league but were only 11th best in stopping the run. The Patriots were ranked 13th in rushing offense and 10th in rushing defense.
Their ability to stop the run should be a major factor in determining if they remain undefeated.
"We had a tough game with them down there last year without Fred Taylor," Belichick said. "I think Fred Taylor is one of the best backs in the league. He's a tremendous football player (with) speed like Jones-Drew that can take it the distance as well as pound out the tough yardage."
This program aired on January 7, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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