The AFC playoffs are set to get underway this Saturday, and while the Patriots won’t be on the field for another two weeks, it is never too early to begin previewing who they may face. There are three possible opponents that will be playing this weekend, and I will rank them from hardest, to easiest, concerning them facing off with our Pats.
1. Cincinnati Bengals
To be completely honest, I am terrified of having to play the Bengals in the divisional round. New England lost to this group earlier in the year, and Cincinnati has only gotten better as the season has progressed. They have an explosive ensemble of receivers, a solid one two punch in the backfield, and a defense that has a legitimate case for the best unit in football. The only reason that I still think the Pats would be able to take them down, is because of the quarterbacks. On one side, you have one of the greatest players to ever walk this earth, a winner of three Super Bowls, and a playoff record of 17-7. And the other sideline will have a guy that is extremely inconsistent, tends to turn the ball over a lot, and shrinks in the big moments. When you need to get a victory in the postseason, I am always riding with Tom Brady, especially if the signal caller on the other side is Andy Dalton. With that being said, the Bengals defense will present a tough challenge to the Patriots, and for that reason, I really hope they avoid Cincinnati in this years’ playoffs.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
The biggest reason I fear the Chiefs, is because of who they have at tailback. Jamaal Charles is one of the most electric players this league has to offer, and I think he would run wild over the New England defensive front. Keeping the ball away from Tom Brady is the best defense you can deploy against him, and the Chiefs have the personal to do it. Now this years’ New England team is a little different, largely because of the excellent running game they now have. LeGarrette Blount has really emerged as a good back over the last few games, and the combination of him, and Stevan Ridley allow the Patriots to win smash-mouth football games, where you are forced to run the ball. If these two teams clash in the divisional round, it will be a showcase of the backfields, and they will definitely give us a show.
3. Indianapolis Colts
I was tempted to put the Colts at number two, solely because of their quarterback. Andrew Luck is the best quarterback of these three teams, and as Patriots fans know, you need a good quarterback to be successful in the postseason. Everybody has been saying how Brady has been carrying the Patriots all year long, but Luck seems to go unnoticed in this category. He has led his team to a divisional title with no running game, and a mediocre defense. Of course, those two things are why I feel that this matchup would be the easiest of the three for the Pats. But at the same time, being forced to beat Luck will not be an easy task. The Colts run defense is one of the worst in the league, which makes me think that New England would just run the ball down their throats all game long, and not allow Luck to get on the field and attack the Patriots’ secondary. I certainly don’t think that the Pats would blow the Colts out of the water, but other than their quarterback, I just don’t see a team that is capable of coming into Foxboro, and defeating Tom Brady, and Bill Belichick.