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Potential Patriots divisional round opponents: Chiefs likely pose biggest threat

Ryan Hannable
January 02, 2018 - 12:49 pm

The playoffs are finally here.

By way of earning the No. 1 seed, the Patriots have earned a first-round bye and will host a divisional round game on Saturday, Jan. 13 at 8:15 p.m. It will be against the team remaining after wild card weekend with the worst seed.

No. 3 Jacksonville will host No. 6 Buffalo on Sunday afternoon, while No. 4 Kansas City will host No. 5 Tennessee on Saturday afternoon. This means the Patriots will play the winner of the Chiefs-Titans game, unless the Bills upset the Jaguars.

Here’s a quick breakdown of each team the Patriots could face.

CHIEFS

Kansas City is playing much better than it did in the middle of the season after its great start. That start included a big Week 1 win at Gillette Stadium against the Patriots. This would seem to give them confidence that they can beat the Patriots on the road, but even though Kansas City has had some success against them in the regular season, New England has had its number in the playoffs.

With that being said, the Chiefs pose the biggest threat of upsetting New England of any of the potential opponents. It has a veteran coach in Andy Reid, who always seems to find a way to find his opponent's weakness and try to exploit it. Also, the Chiefs are a run-heavy offense, which could potentially be a threat to the Patriots defense. New England’s defense finished the regular season allowing 4.7 yards per carry, the second-worst in the league.

This matchup would also be interesting as it would feature the return of Darrelle Revis to Foxboro.

TITANS

There’s a huge dropoff from the Chiefs to the Titans and Bills. Flat out, Tennessee isn’t a playoff-caliber team, but with a down year in the AFC, it was able to earn the first wild card spot. Marcus Mariota had a down year, as he threw 13 touchdowns to 15 interceptions, while finishing with a quarterback rating of 79.3. At running back, DeMarco Murray was inconsistent, but Derrick Henry took over the lead role in Week 17 with Murray out with a knee injury.

Tennessee’s defense carried the team down the stretch, as after allowing 40 points to the Steelers in Week 11, it closed the year allowing 17.2 points per game over the final six weeks.

It would not appear the Titans would pose a huge threat to the Patriots in Foxboro.

BILLS

It’s a great story for the Bills franchise to make the postseason for the first time since 1999, but like the Titans, in any other year they likely are not making the postseason. 

New England had a great deal of success against Buffalo this year, especially on defense, as the Bills didn’t score an offensive touchdown against them in the two games. Buffalo’s defense did frustrate Tom Brady at times, which would be something to keep an eye on if the teams were to meet in 11 days. On the flip side, Rob Gronkowski has been a beast against the Bills in his career and would be primed to go off again.

Another thing to keep in mind is it’s always difficult to beat a team three times in one season in any sport, but we don’t see this being an issue for New England if it were to host the Bills.

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