On Sunday afternoon the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Indianapolis Colts to advance to the AFC divisional round. The New England Patriots will host the Houston Texans, their week 14 opponent in their divisional round next Sunday. If they win that game, they will either host the Ravens who they faced in week 3 or they will travel west to take on the Denver Broncos who they faced in week 5. Either way the Patriots will play a familiar opponent for the remainder of the AFC playoffs.
Next Sunday the Patriots will face their week 14 opponent in the Texans. On a Monday night four weeks ago with the Patriots dominated the then AFC’s number one seed beginning a slide which eventually gave the Patriots a bye week. When the Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals Saturday the expected rematch was set.
If the Patriots beat the Texans for the second time this season, they will face the winner of the Ravens or Broncos which takes place Saturday. The Patriots took on the Ravens in Baltimore back in week 3 where they lost 31-30. Just eight months after Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed the potential game tying field goal in Foxborough, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski did the same resulting in the Patriots defeat.
The rematch most football fans want to see is the Patriots take on the Broncos. This game would be a rematch in several ways. First, the Patriots beat the Broncos at home back in week 5 31-21. It would be the final loss for the Broncos during the regular season as they would roll off eleven straight wins to end the season. It would also be a rematch of the greatest quarterback rivalry of the last decade. With the Colts, Peyton Manning faced Tom Brady in many playoff duels with much at stake. Now with the Broncos Manning and Brady could duel again if they both take care of business next weekend this time at Manning’s home.
While the Patriots are certain to face a familiar opposition in the AFC playoffs, they could also see a rematch if they reach the Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks, week 6 opponent, and the San Francisco 49ers, week 15 opponent, are both in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs. In week 6 the Patriots blew a ten point lead in the fourth quarter to lose to Russell Wilson and the Seahawks by one. In week 15 the Patriots came back impressively from a 31-3 deficit in the third quarter to tie the game late in the fourth. But the 49ers rebounded to win the game by seven. The Patriots would certainly love a second chance at either of those teams with a Super Bowl title on the line.
It’s unclear whether or not these rematches would benefit the Patriots. While the Patriots will already have studied their opponent extensively so will have the opponent. But with a 16 game NFL schedule, it’s rare that a team faces a past opponent in each playoff round. But if the NFC playoffs play out a certain way and the Patriots reach their sixth Super Bowl in twelve years, that’s exactly what will happen.