On 1st-round bye, Patriots look ahead to potential playoff opponents

New England Nation
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FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — For the ninth consecutive season, the New England Patriots have earned a first-round bye in the playoffs.

This weekend, the Patriots will relax with family and friends and await their opponent in the AFC Divisional round on Jan. 13 at 1 p.m.

Below are the normal notes and quotes from this past week to pass the time for the bye week and also preview the potential teams who could come to Foxboro in seven days:

Potential second-round opponents for the Patriots:

No. 3 seed Houston Texans (11-5)

The Patriots play them if: Houston defeats Indianapolis.

If you think back all the way to the season opener in early September, then you’ll remember the Patriots 27-20 Week 1 win over the Texans.

That win ended up being the difference between the Patriots earning the No. 2 seed and a bye or the No. 3 seed and having to play during Wild Card weekend. The Texans lost the first three games of the year and early on, the win didn’t seem to hold much weight.

Houston then ripped off nine straight wins to catapult itself into the top tier of the AFC. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is a much different player than the one we saw earlier this season, his first game back after a season-ending ACL injury in 2017, and the defensive line is one of the most potent in the NFL.

Despite a weakened wide receiver core, the Texans still pose many threats for the Patriots should they meet.

No. 4 Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

The Patriots play them if: Indianapolis defeats Houston and Baltimore defeats Los Angeles.

The Baltimore Ravens are one of the hottest teams entering the postseason, wining six of their last seven games with the lone defeat coming on the road to Kansas City in overtime.

The Ravens have a mobile quarterback in rookie Lamar Jackson, who has been getting increasingly more comfortable as his freshman season progresses.

Baltimore owns the top-ranked defense in the NFL led by 16-year veteran Terrell Suggs. Head coach Jim Harbaugh and Co. won’t be the least bit intimidated if they earn the right to face the Patriots.

No. 5 seed Los Angeles Chargers (12-4)

The Patriots play them if: Indianapolis defeats Houston and Los Angeles defeats Baltimore.

Unfortunately for the Chargers, they came up just short in the AFC West, meaning their second-best conference record doesn’t have much to show for come playoff time.

However, Phillip Rivers has led his high-flying offense to a 7-1 record away from home and another 5-3 on a neutral field. That should give his crew confidence as they’ll head east to Baltimore in the first round and then travel up I-95 to Foxboro or to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Chiefs.

At 37 years old, this might be Rivers’ last shot to reach the Super Bowl. The Chargers are in the playoffs for just the second time since 2009.


  • The Patriots were the only team in the NFL to post an undefeated 8-0 record at home in the regular season.
  • Tom Brady has started 37 playoff games in his career. Of the other 11 quarterbacks in the postseason, they’ve all combined to start 46 playoff games.
  • The Patriots are 12-2 in the divisional round of the playoffs in the Belichick-Brady era.


Bill Belichick on the Patriots’ bye week: “We have an opportunity this week to work on things that will help us. Obviously, we don’t know who we’re going to play, so once that clears up, we’ll turn our attention to that team. But, right now, hopefully we can find some things that we can improve on that will help us the next time we do get a chance to play.”

James White on his plans for the bye week: “I always watch football when it’s on, for sure. It’s always entertaining. It’s a great weekend for football, get four games and just tune in, relax with the family, watch some great games.”

The Patriots may have this weekend off, but the New England Nation crew doesn’t! Join us Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on Fox Providence for in-depth Patriots coverage, and stay with us for the New England Nation Patriots Wrap at 11:15 p.m. on WPRI 12.

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