With a healthy Byron Leftwich, an improving wide receiver group, a good running game and an underrated defense, Jacksonville is quietly confident and looking for respect.
The Patriots, meanwhile, are back to being the Patriots. Their defense has stability at linebacker and can create pressure from every direction, and Tom Brady has proved he can carry the team even when its defense and running game are struggling.
But as in any NFL game, the outcome likely will turn on a few key matchups. Here are five worth watching:
Jacksonville C Dennis Norman vs. New England NT Vince Wilfork
After a slow start, Wilfork has developed into a dominating inside presence. He's the perfect two-gap player who can stack at the line of scrimmage and most of the time requires double-team blocks. Norman is a "try hard" guy who will battle Wilfork, but he cannot anchor at the point of attack in this matchup without help. Wilfork will try to collapse the pocket and drive Norman back into Leftwich, who does not want to move side to side in the pocket. It also will be hard for the Jaguars to get to ILBs Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel because Wilfork will eat up at least two blockers, giving the inside linebackers a clean path to the ball.