Originally written on Boston's Bettah  |  Last updated 11/18/14

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Wes Welker get to rest this week before their playoff run begins

The NFL playoffs begin this weekend and the New England Patriots will not be taking part. Fear not you Patriot’s fans who went into a coma for the last seventeen weeks and did not know what was going on. The Patriots aren’t playing this weekend because for the second year in a row the team has secured the number one overall seed, a first round bye, and home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs. Pretty good for a team that couldn’t cover a high-school kid out of the back-field.

While the Patriots get to sit at home, relax, and watch football, four other AFC playoff teams are fighting to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive. The Houston Texans host a playoff game for the first time in franchise history against the Cincinnati Bengals while the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Denver to take on the Tebows. In addition to relaxing, you can bet the Patriots will be watching these games with intent on learning anything they can about their potential opponents. Three of the teams – the Broncos Tebows, the Steelers, and the Bengals – all exist as enemies in round two for the New England Patriots. Obviously, the Patriots will want to have the mindset that each team will be a tough out because everyone is a playoff team, but in the back of their minds, there are teams that the coaches and players would rather play than the others. Think the Patriots were happy that the Jacksonville Jaguars came to New England instead of the Steelers in 2007? Absolutely they were. Having said that, let’s break down the Patriots potential second round playoff foes.

Cincinnati Bengals

Record – (9-7, AFC North Wild-Card)

Scenario to play the Patriots - Beat Houston Texans

Pros - The Bengals start a rookie quarterback – Andy Dalton – and historically rookie quarterbacks struggle in the playoffs. Their offense is in the bottom half of the league (20th in total yards, 18th in scoring). They aren’t exactly a scary team talent wise. Outside of A.J Green, there really is no one that can attack the anemic secondary of the Patriots. Of all the teams in the AFC play-off bracket, they are arguably the least talented. They are also somehow still coached by Marvin Lewis after all these years. He’s been the playoffs twice before and has a record of (0-2), you can argue their due for a run, but maybe something else is wrong here.

Cons – The Bengals defense is really, really good. They are ninth in the league in scoring defense and seventh in the league in yards given up. It’s not because they are necessarily stacked with talent – although Reggie Nelson and and Rey Maualuga are quietly two of the better players at their positions – but defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is fantastic at scheming and always has a physical defense. This could be bad for the Patriots because the Patriots have struggled against physical teams this season. Also, if weather comes to Foxboro for the Saturday night 8:00 PM game, it could favor the physicality of the Bengals.

In Play – If the Bengals play the Patriots in round two, is anyone betting against a Chad Ochocinco 7 catches, 117 yards 1 touchdown performance in his first game against his old team? I’m not.

I want to play these guys rating - 7/10

Pittsburgh Steelers

Record - (12 -4, AFC North Wild-Card)

Scenario to play the Patriots - Win and have Houston beat Cincinnati

Pros – The Pittsburgh Steelers may be the most banged up team coming into the post-season with quarterback Ben Rothlisberger suffering from a sprained ankle and running back Rashard Mendenall having recently torn his ACL. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is also a master at scheming for a second game against a team during a season. He rarely loses twice to a team in the same season, and it’s only happened twice when the second game comes in the post-season (the 06-07 Colts, and the 09-10 Jets). The Pittsburgh Steelers are also 21st in scoring offense which is promising for the Patriots defense.

Cons – Of all the teams in the post-season, this is probably the team the Patriots don’t want to play. They are one of only three teams to beat the Patriots this year and played the almost perfect game-plan to stop Tom Brady and the offense. They beat the Patriots because they are incredibly physical and, again, the Patriots struggle against physical football teams because of the way they play football. They also have the most post-season chops of the AFC playoff teams having represented the AFC in the Super Bowl 2 of the past 3 years. This team may be banged up, but they are so well coached and physical that they can definitely beat the Patriots, and make it look easy in the process.

In Play – The last time the Steelers beat the Patriots in the regular season and played them in the post-season was 04-05 when the Patriots blew out the Steelers in the AFC Championship game in Pittsburgh. Granted, that was the height of the Patriots dynasty and Ben Rothlisberger’s rookie season, but still, I’m holding on hope for that.

I want to play these guys rating - 4-10, and the 4 is really only because I like revenge.

Denver Broncos

Record – (8-8, AFC West Champions)

Scenario to play the Patriots - Win and have Houston beat Cincinnati

Pros – Not only did the Patriots draw up the perfect game plan to stop Denver quarterback Tim Tebow, but they have sent the Broncos into a tail-spin. The Broncos haven’t won a game since losing to the Patriots and the Tebow magic may be running out. They won the worst division in football, will be playing outside Denver and are in the bottom ten in the league in offense. May I also mention that Tim Tebow has a passer rating of 43.2, the lowest of any starter in the league?

Cons – Tim Tebow. This team has the highest “Nobody believes in us” factor of any team in the post-season field. No one thinks they can beat Pittsburgh never mind make a run to the AFC Championship. Why would anyone bet against Tim Tebow? Sure, he has looked bad the past few weeks, but this is also the same kid who was never, ever, ever, supposed to start in the National Football League. In college, he thrived in bowl or championship games, only losing once to Alabama in the SEC championship. Something tells me he is bringing his A-game to Festivus. The Broncos are also one of the few teams in the league to successfully run the ball against the Patriots this year as they had almost 200 yards rushing in the first half of their first meeting.

In play – Tebow time. I know we beat him already, but if they get to the second round of the playoffs, something is going to be going on and I don’t like it.

I want to play these guys rating - 7/10


Ray Rice wins appeal, can sign with any team

Ohio governor decrees playoff committee honorary Ohioans

Lance Stephenson becoming a problem with the Hornets?

Tony Romo: I promise I'll be better next week

Seahawks could wait to address Russell Wilson's contract

Report: SMU football to hire Clemson offensive coordinator


Dez Bryant: Eagles were ‘kinda cheap’

Hockey goalie rushes into stands to perform CPR on fan

49ers CEO Jed York apologizes for unacceptable performance

Family searching for missing Ohio State football player

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE, says he'll never return

Manny Pacquiao responds to Floyd Mayweather diss

What if the Chargers refused to trade Eli Manning?

Why is there a red seat hanging in the Mall of America?

WATCH: Mickey Rourke TKO’d a man half his age in Moscow

What's next for the 49ers?

The most tone-deaf tweet ever?

Five bold predictions for Week 13 in the NFL

Brady Quinn pens 'note' to Jets quarterback Geno Smith

Bills center Eric Wood gained 7.4 pounds at Thanksgiving

Cubs reliever somehow OK after being involved in awful accident

Seahawks players throw shade at 49ers after victory

Five takeaways from NFL's Thanksgiving Day action

Things to be thankful for in the NBA this season

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

What if the Chargers didn't trade Eli?

Dez Bryant: Eagles were ‘kinda cheap’

Ray Rice wins appeal, can sign with any team

What's next for the 49ers?

The most tone-deaf tweet ever?

Is Lance a problem for the Hornets?

5 NFL takeaways from Thanksgiving

WATCH: Ronda Rousey talks Eminem

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE

Wrigley renovation may be delayed

Steelers could have been America's Team

John Beilein upset with ESPN

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.