Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 1/7/12

The sands are pouring in the hour glass as the timer is set on the New England Patriots season. It’s one game and you're out - one and done, while the Patriots heal up and wait to see who is their next opponent is.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots are getting ready scouting all three teams they could face. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Denver are possible opponents and although they won’t have to leave Foxborough, there are many things to scout.

A return match with the Denver Broncos – The first time around Tim Tebow started off having a great first half and then hasn’t been effective since. Tebow mania was running wild until the Patriots went to Denver and doused the Tebow flames. Could Tim Tebow win a rematch vs. Tom Brady? In Gillette, in January? He has to get by a physical Pittsburgh defense first. It’s a tall order for a guy who is on the brink and his own team is saying it’s a make or break game for him. The pressure is too much here, and Pittsburgh won’t let Tebow run. If he does, he’ll get pounded.

Revenge on Pittsburgh – In October the Steelers beat the Patriots 25-17 in Pittsburgh and if they can get by the Broncos, they get a trip to Gillette. Most teams could come into lazy sounding Gillette and not excite the home crowd. The Steelers aren’t one of them. As much as the Steelers fans hate the Patriots, the favor is always returned. Expect Gillette to be rocking and loud, and the Patriots more than pumped up with a fresh memory of how the Steelers dominated, yet still only won by one touchdown.

The Cincinnati Bengals defense – The Bengals are the great unknown, a rookie QB in Andy Dalton and rookie wide receiver standout A.J. Green. However, the bigger story is the Bengals defense. The 7th ranked defense gets after the quarterback. They're 10th in rush defense and 9th in pass defense. That poses the biggest problem as they have the tools to give the New England offense fits.

The team that New England would like to play?
Denver: The Broncos will lose to Pittsburgh so forget it.

The actual team that will arrive?
Cincinnati: The Bengal will upset the Houston Texans, who does not have a tested QB and could be down to Jake Delhomme, who really shouldn’t be playing anymore.

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