Which of the three possible opponents would you most like to see the Patriots match up against in the divisional round?
Raj: Since I have the Bengals pulling off an upset and the Ravens beating the Colts, I would be interested in watching New England battle off against Baltimore in the AFC Divisional round. The Ravens are a tough team no doubt. There's no chance the Pats will score 45 like how they did to the Broncos last year. But it will be a very interesting match. There will be a bit of a revenge factor since the Ravens barely edged the Patriots in Baltimore. If they meet, the game will be in New England and it will be a lot colder. That creates a whole new dimension to the game, which I believe will benefit the Patriots. I'll be interested in seeing what adjustment the Patriots make from the previous meeting in Baltimore to prep for this matchup (if they meet of course).
Stephen: Indianapolis would be the easiest matchup for the Patriots. The Colts' defense doesn't preset a whole lot of matchup issues outside of neutralizing Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Baltimore is a battle-tested team who always gives the Patriots their best effort. Houston's defense still has the ability to control the game, and Cincinnati is one of the hottest teams in the league right now. Give me the Colts at home and a trip to the AFC Championship.
Jason: I would like to see the Colts gift-wrapped under our Christmas tree with a big red bow. Even though the Pats crushed the Texans and outplayed the Ravens this year, the Colts are probably the easiest matchup based on their defense.
Derek: Common sense would tell you to go with the rookie QB and weak defense and root for the Colts to end up in Foxboro next week. However, do you really want to flirt with the Patriots needing to defeat Tebowmania and Chuckstrong in the divisional round in back-to-back seasons? Even if they win, that's got bad karma and another Super Bowl heartbreak written all over it. Baltimore and Houston are both entering the post-season on downward spirals. Baltimore always plays the Patriots tough, while Houston seems poised to fold-up like a chair. Could it really be that the best matchup for the Patriots is the #3 seed?
I hate to ask for any opponent, lest I jinx the Patriots and bring on a surprise upset like the Jets in 2010. If you put a gun to my head though, the team I just don't see winning in Foxboro is Baltimore. The Colts have momentum on their side. The Texans have redemption on their side. Baltimore is just due for a total tail-kicking after that ridiculous replacement ref debacle in Week 3.