New England Patriots: Why the Divisional Round Doesn't Matter
Of course, the Patriots have to get there first, by winning their divisional matchup.
They will compete against the lowest-seeded team in the divisional round, which is a big advantage, especially coming out of a bye week.
But it does not matter who they face.
Here is why.
If It's the Bengals
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The sixth seed will automatically be visiting Gillette if they can pull it together and win over the Texans. The way I see it, this is very probable, seeing as Houston is on its fourth-string quarterback and barely beat the Bengals when T.J. Yates looked good.
The Bengals are a young team, emerging as a great defense and a strong passing team. A.J. Green and Andy Dalton should be co-Rookies of the Year. They together have a fast-break quality that makes all the difference in an intense playoff game.
Still, they are young, while the Patriots are more experienced at the more critical positions. Assuming Cincy gets a "W" in Texas, it will be over a depleted team that lost to the Colts just two weeks ago. Also, the Bengals have yet to beat an AFC playoff contender.
Welcome to the AFC Championship, Bill Belichick. It's nice to see you back here again.
If It's the Steelers
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This is by far the most dangerous matchup, seeing as New England has already lost to Pittsburgh this year.
That wasn't in Gillette Stadium.
That wasn't with an injured Rashard Mendenhall.
That wasn't with a weakened Ben Roethlisberger.
I don't deny that the defense is still stronger, but I don't see them holding the Pats below 20 points, especially when the entire offense is on the hot streak to end all hot streaks. To match the 49 unanswered points put up by their offense, the New England defense came up with four interceptions in two quarters of play.
Remember, the Steelers only play New England if they win over the Broncos and the Texans win.
Based on the injuries in Pittsburgh and Houston, it is very hard to envision that happening.
If It's the Broncos
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The Broncos journey to New England only if they beat the Steelers and the Texans defeat the Bengals.
Honey, that ain't happenin'.
But let's pretend it will.
Tebow, who is not pictured in order to give readers a break from "His Shining Image," has led his team to three straight losses, including a blowout by Buffalo, of all teams.
The team has to rely on its defense now more than ever, following a near-shutout dealt by Kansas City. Yet, when the week before, a team gives up 40 points and two pick sixes, things do not bode well.
Tebow the passer is a failed experiment. In Week 17, he threw 6-of-22 for 60 yards and one interception. Meanwhile, McGahee managed 145 yards, yet his longest run was for 15 yards, which means he couldn't make the big play.
If the Broncos want a rematch, they better fix up everything about themselves. They've regressed since the Pats crushed them three games ago, though, so I wouldn't count on a win.
I'll see you in the AFC Championship.