The New England Patriots played their way into the #2 seed in the AFC, which means they won’t be playing this weekend. But Patriots fans still have something to root for during the wild card round as the outcome of the games will obviously decide who the team will play next week. The more important thing, however, is who the Kansas City Chiefs will play. No Patriots fan cares about only making it to the AFC Championship game (for the eighth straight year), we all have our sights set higher than that. And the best path to the Super Bowl is staying at home, which means the Chiefs need to be knocked out next weekend.
So the question becomes, what team or teams are capable of doing that? I’m thinking of the Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, and Indianapolis Colts. The Texans can’t play the Chiefs next weekend, so they’re out. That leaves just the Colts and Chargers. Now, you may be thinking that the Baltimore Ravens pushed the Chiefs to overtime in week 14. Here’s the thing though: the lowest amount of points the Chiefs have scored this season is 26. The most points the Ravens have scored this season is 26. I’d be shocked, even with their defense, that the Ravens would be able to pull off the upset.
That brings us to the Colts and Chargers. Both teams are in the top 10 in both points scored and points allowed. That’s exactly what’s needed to beat the Chiefs. You need to have a good enough defense to stop them, but also have a good enough offense to score with them as well. The Colts are the sixth seed, but they’ve been on fire and have won 9 out of their last 10 games. Many times, it’s the hottest team that goes on a run in playoffs and surprises everyone. Patriots fans sure know about that, since they lost twice to the New York Giants after rough starts to their season. Outside of one terrible game against Jacksonville, the Colts have been red hot, and a force to be reckoned with.
The Chargers, obviously, lost to the Chiefs already this season, but they also beat them recently in Kansas City. They didn’t score under 20 points this season, so they can certainly score with the Chiefs, and they have already proven that they can slow them down. Philip Rivers hasn’t made it to the Super Bowl yet, and has only played in one AFC Championship game, losing to the Patriots in 2007 (a game in which he played on a torn ACL). A lot of people think this might be the year for Rivers, and, while I hope that isn’t the case, I can certainly see why. The Chargers are going to be a tough out this year, and I think they have what it takes to knock off the Chiefs.
Of course, this whole exercise could be pointless if the Chiefs just do what they and Andy Reid always do, which is choke in the playoffs. Any team has a chance of beating the Chiefs if they turn into the team they’ve been in the playoffs these last few years. Last year, they lost to the Tennessee Titans at home, blowing a 21-3 halftime lead, and a 21-10 4th quarter lead, in a game in which Marcus Mariota threw touchdown passes to Eric Decker and Marcus Mariota. I know most people don’t trust KC to win in the playoffs, and with good reason, but why take the chance.
I realize that I’ve gone this entire article without mentioning a potential matchup for the Patriots, and I don’t care. When they’re at home, they can beat anybody. They’ve played extremely well at Gillette this year, and that obviously played out when they finished 8-0 at home during the regular season. I think it’s possible for another team to come to Foxboro and win, but I’m confident the Patriots have a shot in any game they play at home this postseason. So, bring on whoever comes here, I’ll be hoping that whoever has to go into KC can come out with a victory and secure home field for the Patriots.
Pat is the host of The Patriot Nation Podcast
Interact with him on Twitter @plane_pats