New England Patriots

2011 NFL Playoffs: Why the Pats Are Guaranteed a Super Bowl with AFC No. 1 Seed

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Jets fly over before the start of the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the New England Patriots during the NFL season opener on September 12, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
Caleb AbnerContributor IIIJanuary 6, 2012

Tom Brady's New England Patriots have never lost to the Steelers at home.

Just remember that fact.

Out of every team in the NFL, the one that creates the biggest mismatch for the Patriots is none other than the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have a premier pass defense, a stout rush defense and an elite quarterback in Roethlisberger. 

As the Steelers are a wild-card team, they'll be playing the Patriots in the divisional round if the Texans beat the Bengals and they themselves defeat Denver. 

Roethlisberger is injured, and his recent stats have been crippled as a result. And Rashard Mendenhall will not participate in their Week 17 game. 

Though the Pats lost to the Steelers at Heinz Field earlier this season, do not expect a repeat.

The Pats are at Gillette until the Super Bowl. And their greatest threat has been neutralized.

Neither the Bengals nor the Broncos pose a challenge. Cincinnati is inexperienced in the playoffs, and haven't yet beaten an elite team. The Broncos were decimated by New England—in Denver—and as Tebow continues to regress from week to week, one can expect only a bigger deficit. 

The Texans lack a quarterback who can take them past the divisional round. Since they'll be facing the Ravens, 8-0 at home, in Baltimore if they make it there, expect a loss.

This brings us to the Ravens. 

Baltimore closed out the 2011 season with 12 wins and the No. 2 seed in the AFC. 

All four of their losses came on the road. 

None of their losses were to playoff teams. They were defeated by Tennessee, Jacksonville, Seattle and San Diego. Not playoff-caliber at all. 

Playoffs are won by the most consistent teams who are always ready to give 100 percent of their potential.

On the road, the Ravens don't fit that bill. 

We'll be watching the Patriots on Super Bowl Sunday.

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