The Patriots have the #2 seed, which means they won't be facing Denver or Pittsburgh in the Divisional Round. The toughest potential matchup was taken off the board when the Steelers took the last playoff spot after the New York Jets choked against Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills. With the Jets out of the picture, that meant no AFC East team would play the Patriots in the postseason. Of the three possible opponents, only the Houston Texans have seen the Patriots this year. The first potential opponent being previewed is the Cincinnati Bengals, since they are the #3 seed.
The last time the Patriots played the Bengals, Bill Belichick's midweek press conference went viral for this four-worded answer. The Bengals are a team ripe for the picking with a banged up secondary and an injury to their starting QB. The Patriots are also heavily banged up, but do get players returning for the game. Of course, that's assuming they make it past Pittsburgh, who can exploit that very same issue with their receiving corps. If the Bengals defeat the Steelers, then they are 100% guaranteed to play the Patriots as they are the highest seed playing in the Wild Card round.
Key Injuries to Monitor:
- Bengals QB Andy Dayton
- Bengals S George Iloka
- Patriots WR Julian Edelman
- Patriots LT Sebastian Vollmer
- Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower
- Logan Ryan and Devin McCourty vs. AJ Green
- Bengals S and LB vs. Rob Gronkowski