Breaking Down Every Potential Playoff Matchup for the New England Patriots

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Breaking Down Every Potential Playoff Matchup for the New England Patriots
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

If you think this year feels familiar for the New England Patriots, you're correct. Think back just two years.

In 2010, the Patriots played nearly the entire AFC playoff field during the regular season, and beat them all. In 2010, the Patriots used the months of November and December to catch fire entering the playoffs.

New England wants there to be one key difference between the two seasons, however. In 2010, the season ended way sooner than it was supposed to.

This year, the Patriots want to win the last game they play.

They're looking like a team that can. When time finally ran out on New England's 42-14 win over Houston, any remaining reason not to call the Patriots the team to beat in the AFC may have gone with it.

Of course, as that 2010 season showed, it only takes one bad game for the whole thing to go up in smoke. As the Patriots showed last year against Tim Tebow's Denver Broncos, the key to going on a long run is by hitting top gear from the opening playoff snap.

But who will it be against? As AFC East champs, this much is known: The Patriots will be in the playoffs, and they'll open at home.

As for the opponent? That's up in the air, and a lot can happen in three weeks.

Here's what to expect from the various opponents the Patriots could open up against.

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