Getting to know the Patriots’ next opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, with 10 quick-hit thoughts:
1. They are 7-7, and will need to win their final two games -- and hope for help -- to qualify for the playoffs.
2. After three straight home games, they finish with two games on the road -- at New England and Cleveland. They are 2-4 on the road this season.
3. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew is third in the NFL with 1,246 rushing yards. With 16 touchdowns (15 rushing, 1 receiving), he is the league’s top scoring non-kicker.
4. The Jaguars don’t employ a backfield-by-committee. Jones-Drew has 278 carries, and quarterback David Garrard is next with 68.
5. Garrard has generally avoided the critical mistake. He has just seven interceptions on the season, as the Jaguars rank fourth in the NFL in fewest interceptions per pass play.
6. Pass rush has been an issue all season. They have just 14 quarterback sacks and rank last in the NFL in sacks per opponents’ pass play.
7. Jack Del Rio is in his seventh season as head coach.
8. Gene Smith is in his first season as general manager, and one of his top assistants is Terry McDonough, the son of late Boston Globe columnist Will McDonough.
9. Mike Sims-Walker, a third-year player out of Central Florida, is their leading receiver. The 2007 third-round draft choice has 59 receptions and seven touchdowns.
10. They rank as the NFL’s best punt coverage team, with opponents averaging just 3.9 yards per return.