Familiar foe Peyton Manning leads the current No. 2-seeded Broncos, who are quietly in the midst of a 10-game winning streak. After sitting out the 2011 season because of neck surgeries, Manning is back to his old tricks and will be looking to add a second Super Bowl ring to his resumé.
Besides the high-powered Broncos, the playoff-tested Baltimore Ravens and top-seeded Houston Texans both present tough matchups for the Patriots. Baltimore's star-studded defense and versatile offense makes it a difficult playoff matchup for any team, and although Houston has looked vulnerable in recent weeks, you always have to account for superstars like Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt.
Provided the Patriots make it through the AFC gauntlet, two NFC teams that the Patriots have already lost to this season stand in the way of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick capturing their fourth Lombardi Trophy.
Let's take a look at the five teams that pose the biggest threat to New England's Super Bowl aspirations.