Patriots

With the Patriots out, here are 5 compelling NFL playoff storylines to follow in the coming weeks

Mike Vrabel has a chance to win his first Super Bowl as a head coach.

Mike Vrabel is the head coach of the Tennessee Titans. Matt Patterson/AP Photo

Some fans hibernate and pretend football doesn’t exist as soon as the Patriots are eliminated. Others sulk for a night but quickly regroup and turn their attention to the rest of the playoffs.

For those who do the latter, here are five storylines to follow.

What will Tom Brady’s future hold?

It’s possible Sunday could be Tom Brady’s last game ever. It’s also possible he’ll end up winning yet another Super Bowl and retiring, and of course, it’s possible he’ll return for another season (or five).

While Patriots fans are divided on whether or not to root for Brady, it’s important to remember that he won’t be playing forever – at least in theory. You never know when it’s going to end.

Can Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers win their second Super Bowl?

It feels like both Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers should have multiple Super Bowls by now, but they still only have one apiece. Though it’s highly unlikely Mahomes will ever catch Brady, a triumph this season would place him one step closer.

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There’s also the possibility of a Mahomes vs. Rodgers Super Bowl, which would likely break the internet.

How will Jimmy Garoppolo fare?

It’s easy to forget that two-time Super Bowl champion Jimmy Garoppolo was the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl just two years ago. His time in San Francisco has been up and down (to say the least), but he can put much of the criticism aside by making a deep run in these playoffs.

Will the Bills win their first Super Bowl ever?

The Bills made the Super Bowl four straight years in the early-1990s, but they’ve never won it all. If the way they played against the Patriots is any indication, this year’s team appears to have a prime opportunity to change that.

While it’s understandable that some Patriots fans may want any other team to win, some will certainly side with the team that knocked their squad out of the playoffs. The Bills don’t have any clear weaknesses, and this team has all the makings of a contender.

The last time an AFC East team outside of the Patriots won it all was 1974, when the Miami Dolphins beat the Minnesota Vikings.

Can Mike Vrabel take the Titans to the top?

Mike Vrabel, who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots as a player, has a chance to capture his first with the Titans as a head coach. Tennessee has star running back Derrick Henry back for Saturday’s matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

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The Titans, often slept on, were able to secure the 1-seed even with Henry sidelined for much of the season.

Here’s the schedule of games:

1-seed Titans vs. 4-seed Bengals: Saturday, 4:30 p.m., CBS

1-seed Packers vs. 6-seed 49ers: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. FOX

2-seed Buccaneers vs. 4-seed Rams: Sunday, 3 p.m. NBC

2-seed Chiefs vs. 3-seed Bills: Sunday, 6:30 p.m., CBS

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