The New England Patriots secured a first-round playoff bye with Sunday’s 34-20 win over the Buffalo Bills. The Patriots are rolling at the right time, but a few teams could pose some problems for the 12-4 squad in the playoffs.
Andy Dalton was shaky in his regular-season finale, throwing four interceptions, but the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense managed to bail out their quarterback en route to a 34-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens. That same stingy Bengals D led to the Patriots’ first loss of the season in Week 5. In what was another wet and wild game, Cincinnati was able to slow down Tom Brady and Co., holding New England to just six points. The Bengals have proven they can play with anyone in the AFC, and they could give the Patriots some trouble down the road.
The Indianapolis Colts, meanwhile, pose a threat on the other side of the ball. After beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-10 on Sunday, the Colts have outscored opponents 78-20 over the past three weeks. Although they lost Reggie Wayne to a season-ending injury in Week 7, the Indianapolis offense has adapted, and the proof is in the numbers. The Colts have found their rhythm of late and proven they are a force.
Locked into the AFC’s fifth seed, the Kansas City Chiefs opted to rest their starters Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, who won in overtime. The Chiefs will head to Indianapolis to face the Colts in the first round of the playoffs next week, and unfortunately for Indy, Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles will have some extra rest under their belts. The Chiefs have struggled against playoff-caliber teams this season, most recently losing to the Colts 23-7 at Arrowhead Stadium last week, and while their poor effort hurt their playoff chances, they’ll be looking for revenge come playoff time.