Now, if they win that first playoff game, who would you rather see in the next round between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos?
That’s a very tough question, especially as it will likely be an away game. Both teams have gotten extremely hot at different points during the year, and will be playing strong heading into the AFC Championship game.
There are variables for each team. For the Patriots, Gronkowski suffered a season-ending knee injury, and we saw how much New England struggled against Miami without him. That’s not even including the struggles that Tom Brady faced against Cleveland a week prior, the game in which his favorite receiver went down.
For Denver, there is an inconsistent running game and defense. Sometimes, they both show up, sometimes it’s one or the other, and other times, it’s neither. That could potentially lead to more playoff troubles for Peyton Manning.
For me, I’m leaning towards the Broncos because of the inconsistency. They’ve struggled in a few games down the stretch, and that vulnerability is certainly nice to see from an opponent’s standpoint. That, and I really don’t want Cincinnati playing in Gillette Stadium come January. Brady is too good come playoff time.
What do you think about these potential matchups?
Nov 24, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sidelines during overtime against the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Agreed with everything you said, but I ultimately lean towards Patriots.
The reason I lean towards the Pats being a better matchup is that they simply haven’t been a good team this year without Rob Gronkowski.
All of their biggest wins are with him in the lineup, and their best win without him is a miracle last-second win at home vs. the New Orleans Saints.
Simply put, they’re an average football team now that’s ripe for any playoff team to come into Foxborough and beat.
The one thing you did make clear though is that both teams are very beatable, and for a Bengals team that is clearly flawed. That means we believe Cincinnati could very well make it to the Super Bowl.