The Patriots threatened to pull themselves out of that race Sunday, opening as flat as we've seen them in 2012. Quarterback Tom Brady threw two first-half interceptions, and the Jaguars' offense pressed the Patriots with aggressive play-calling and downfield strikes behind a white-hot Chad Henne. (That's right, we said a white-hot Chad Henne.)
New England's attack struggled to find itself against Jacksonville's 31st-ranked defense.
New England forces teams to endure for 60 minutes. The Jaguars fell short of that task, but the Patriots looked less like a playoff-bound giant and more like a team still smarting -- physically and mentally -- from last week's loss to the San Francisco 49ers. New England remains alive for the bye, but that won't mean much in January if it repeats this performance.