No. 6 Cincinnati Bengals
There's no team in the AFC that has had an easier road to the playoffs than the Cincinnati Bengals, winning six of their last 10 games against non-playoff opponents and only three times against teams in the playoff hunt. The Bengals finished 10-6, beating the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17, which might have been the team's noticeable win of the season had it not been for both teams deciding to sit their star players.
The Bengals are anchored by their sixth-ranked defense, which is led by defensive tackle Geno Atkins (12.5 sacks). Former Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (1,094 yards, 6 touchdowns) has led the ground game while quarterback Andy Dalton has thrown for 3,669 yards and 27 touchdowns in his second season.
The Bengals have faced four common opponents of the Patriots, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, and twice against the Ravens. The Bengals have gone 2-3 in those games, beating the Jaguars and the Ravens.
They face the Houston Texans to start the postseason in the wild card.