The Patriots, by virtue of their 13-3 record earning them a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs, will be sitting at home this week, anxiously awaiting who will be heading to Gillette Stadium for the AFC Divisional Round. The three potential teams – Denver, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are the choices. New England faced Denver and Pittsburgh in the regular season – as they beat the Broncos convincingly on the road 41-23 last month while the game in Pittsburgh was a different story – a week eight loss 25-17. While the Patriots didn’t face the Cincinnati Bengals this year, New England thumped them in the 2010 regular season opener at the Razor – when they jumped out to a 31-3 lead early in the third quarter last year.
So when watching the games this weekend, who should Patriots’ fans cheer for? Well, if you want the
easy road, certainly avoiding Pittsburgh would be everyone in New England’s desire. Denver and Cincinnati simply don’t have the defensive firepower or legitimate quarterback that the Steelers possess. While Andy Dalton and Tim Tebow have been nice stories this year, counting on them to do significant damage in the playoffs is simply too much. The Steelers
have exactly what it takes to take down the Patriots – quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a tough, physical defense and great coaching led by Mike Tomlin and defensive guru Dick LeBeau. The Steelers, however, are banged up – including Roethlisberger – and are certainly not 100 percent at the time of year you need to be healthy.
So if I’m doing my power rankings on who I’d like to see in Foxboro next Saturdaynight from easiest to hardest – 1. Denver 2. Cincinnati 3. Pittsburgh. That being said, the Patriots would enter as the favorites against any of these teams, whomever they play. It’s just interesting to think when watching who the Patriots would fare best against. So New England fans… go Broncos and Bengals!