Friday, January 07, 2011


It will be one of three teams. Either the Jets, Ravens, or Chiefs will come to Gillette Stadium in a little over a week. So as a Pats fan, who should you want the Patriots to face?

The Pats beat the Jets, they beat the Ravens, they haven't played the Chiefs. They also lost to the Jets, needed 73 minutes to barely beat the Ravens (at home), and they haven't played the Chiefs.

You're not going to get a cupcake game in the Divisional Round. Not only are you playing a fellow playoff team, but you're also playing a team that's already won a playoff game. So they must be pretty good.

Let's use the process of elimination, then.

The Ravens match-up the best against the Pats. They get a consistent 4 man pass rush, they don't have the stifling defense of the past, but they're still pretty good. All 4 of their losses were in close games (4 losses by a combined 16 points). They don't get overwhelmed by the Patriots' mystique. I'd rather not see the Ravens.

The Chiefs are an enigma. 10-6, in a weird division. They were 7-1 at home, 3-5 on the road. Their schedule is soft. The only playoff team they beat was Seattle. But they can run the ball with Charles and Jones. And when Cassel plays mistake-free football, they're tough to beat. This might be a fear of the unknown here, but I'd rather not face the Chiefs. There's also a tendency for ex-Belichick assistants to triumph in their first meeting against their old mentor. I'm not sure if that also applies to GMs.

Then there's the Jets. This team beat the Pats early in the season, were throttled by them late in the season, and limped into the playoffs. At the same time, they've got players with good playoff performances under their belt. They can rush the ball, and their defense isn't easy to move the ball against.

The Jets might be the best of these three teams. But it's about matchups in the playoffs. And I think the Patriots matchup very well against them. The Pats can do enough to slow the run to force Mark Sanchez to make bad throws. The Pats' offense can score, generate a lead, and force more throwing and less running.

I've got mixed feelings. I do security at the Stadium, and a playoff game against the Jets means a busy night and extra paperwork. But I'd also love the Patriots to end their season. To make them just a footnote (if you will) of the 2010 NFL season.

I actually do think the Chiefs would be the most favorable opponent. But I think I want the Jets to come here next Sunday. Eliminating a rival in a playoff game is sweet. Although you also risk losing to them, and having it hurt that much more. My brain wants the Chiefs, then Jets, then Ravens. My fandom wants the Jets. And I'll tell you another thing...


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