Which potential divisional round opponent would be the toughest challenge for the Patriots?

Patriots Chiefs
Kareem Hunt runs from New England Patriots safety Patrick Chung during the second half of the NFL kick-off game. –AP Photo/Steven Senne

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The Patriots haven’t been their sharpest lately, though saying that probably underestimates the win over the Steelers. And even if they’re not at their best in their first playoff game, they probably win easily and reach the AFC Championships Game. But which potential opponent is most likely to give them a tough game? Could it be the Titans, since they’re the most unfamiliar? – Jim B.

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It’s still the Chiefs, without a doubt. They’d come to New England if the Jaguars beat the Bills and the Chiefs beat the Titans. They’ve had a strange, uneven season, starting 5-0 – including an opening-night 42-27 win over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Then they lost 6 of 7, including an embarrassing 12-9 loss to the Giants in Week 11 to drop to .500 (6-6).

But they got their act together down the stretch, winning their last four games – including Sunday’s finale at Denver with rookie Patrick Mahomes II at quarterback — to finish 10-6 and lock up the fourth seed.

Should Patriots fans fear them? Nah, that’s too strong a word.  But they should respect them. There’s plenty of talent on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and Andy Reid is one of the better coaches in the league despite his apparent inability to tell time. Only three teams in the NFL this season know what it feels like – and what it takes – to beat the Patriots. The Chiefs are one of them. I don’t believe they will do it again, but they’ve got a better shot than the Bills or Titans would.

What do you guys think? Which potential divisional round opponent would be the toughest challenge for the Patriots? I’ll hear you in the comments.

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