With the AFC's portion of wild card weekend in the bag and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs advancing to the divisional round, the New England Patriots now know the Chiefs will be heading into Gillette next Saturday.

With Kansas City headed to town, let's take a quick look at how they got here. The Chiefs seemingly bullied the Houston Texans last night, shutting out the fourth seeded team 30-0 on the road.

While they won big, don't be completely fooled by the lopsided score. Did Kansas City play well overall? Of course they. But, did they really dominate like it appears? That question has a much less definitive answer.

Here's the thing. Yes, they were on the road, but the Chiefs were really the better team going in at 11-5 so it really shouldn't matter as much. They came in with a better record and a more balanced attack than the 9-7 Texans, who really benefited from playing in the weak AFC South division.

Also, when you look at the game stats, the Chiefs' offense didn't really do anything overwhelming. They actually got bottled up pretty well by the Houston defense, which is the strength of their team.

On the flip side, the Chiefs did pitch a shut out on defense. However, the Texans offense is, in a word, awful. Here's an example for you. On first and goal from the two-yard-line, Texans' head coach, Bill O'Brien had such little faith in his offense that he sent defensive end J.J. Watt into the game to run the wildcat offense and run the ball behind defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. That play was a bust, resulting in a two yard loss.

In O'Brien's defense, however, on the next play his regular quarterback, Brian Hoyer, dropped back, felt pressure and threw a goal line interception. Just a couple of examples of the less-than-stellar offense the Kansas City defense stymied yesterday.

Regardless of how they got here, the Chiefs will be the opponent this Saturday. They're winners of 11 straight, after starting the year off at 1-5. They also are the team that was, in many ways responsible for New England's remarkable championship run last season.

Let's all remember the last time these two teams played, the Chiefs dominated in a Week 4, Monday night shellacking of the Pats, 41-14 at Arrowhead Stadium. The boo birds came out and even ESPN's own resident bonehead Trent Dilfer said that the Patriots "just aren't good anymore." From there New England rattled off 10 wins in their final 12 regular season games and, of course, swept three postseason games en route to their fourth Lombardi Trophy.

Knowing the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick's penchant for bulletin board fodder and getting his team fired up in an "us against the world" mindset, I bet something from last year works its way into the minds of the Pats this week. Even though things worked out just fine for the Pats following that terrible loss last year, Belichick will find some way to get it into the minds of his players that they've got something to prove and a huge loss to avenge.

We'll see how things go throughout the week, but for now this game already has the makings of an exciting playoff battle.




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