By Danny Cox
Right now, the New England Patriots are sitting in an enviable position with a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. While some may think that the Pats are riding high, there are a lot of questions currently coming their way, making life a bit more difficult for them than many may realize.
Possible opponents for the Patriots in the Divisional Round
The Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs each received a first-round bye and a ticket straight into the Divisional Round of the playoffs. With the Wild Card Round taking place this upcoming weekend, many fans are wondering just who New England might possibly face off against in their first post-season game of 2017.
Having the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC means that the Patriots will play the lowest seeded team remaining after the Wild Card Round. The Chiefs will get the highest seeded team remaining. One match-up has the No. 6 Miami Dolphins taking on the No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers and the No. 5 Oakland Raiders against the No. 4 Houston Texans.
The only team out of those four who the Patriots have no chance of playing in the second round is Pittsburgh. Here are a few things to consider about which match-up may take place next week:
- If the highest seeded teams win, the Patriots will play the Texans.
- If the two lowest seeded teams win, the Patriots will play the Dolphins.
- If the Steelers win, the Patriots will play the winner of the Raiders/Texans game.
- If the Dolphins win, the Patriots will play them.
Josh McDaniels to speak with three teams about head coaching vacancies
As the Patriots try to prepare for whichever team may travel to face them, they’re also dealing with internal drama. With Black Monday passing earlier this week and a number of head coaching positions opening up, it’s no surprise that some of those on the talented Patriots’ coaching staff would get a few looks.
One name that is drawing a lot of attention is none other than offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He could have interviewed for a number of positions last January, but he chose to pass on them and stay in New England. This year, McDaniels is taking advantage of those who may want him to lead their teams. McDaniels has scheduled interviews with the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars for Saturday.
Patricia, Caserio also taking interviews
Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is interviewing with the Rams and San Diego Chargers for their head coaching positions on Saturday. Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio is interviewing with the 49ers for their general manager position.
For now, the New England Patriots organization is allowing any coaches and other staff members to interview for positions until Sunday, but they can’t be hired until after their season is over. If the Patriots end up reaching the Super Bowl, staff members are able to interview again during the bye week after the conference championship games.