After seeing how big of a role the elements played in Sunday's game, how important would home field advantage be for the Patriots in the playoffs?
Raj: It would be huge. Look, I decided to go to my first ever game at Gillette last week. Man, was it ever cold... Talk about single digit weather and double digit windspeed...how could anyone play in that?! But I think the Patriots thrive in this weather. And if that's how it's going to be in the playoffs, I think home field would be amazing. Though you can't definitely say it will help New England win, it certainly gives a big boost.
Jason: I don't see homefield advantage being a huge deal. Earning a bye, on the other hand, is huge. There is always a chance of something screwy happening (i.e. the Ravens), and playing one fewer game reduces the number of screwy things they'll need to survive. The biggest threat to New England is Denver, and the biggest hurdle for the Broncos will be Peyton Manning in cold weather. The Broncos didn't make it out of their first playoff game last year, and it wouldn't be a shock to see it happen again. It won't be much warmer in Colorado than Foxboro.
Derek: Considering that the Patriots have been eliminated at home in the playoffs for three of the past four seasons, I would say that obtaining the AFC's #1 seed would hardly guarantee anything. From a psychological standpoint, making Peyton Manning return to his personal house of horrors that is Foxboro could potentially give the Patriots an edge in an AFC Championship matchup. However, it's going to be every bit as cold in Mile High and I'd expect Manning to have every bit as much trouble getting the ball down the field. I'm with Jason. Definitely give me a bye week. After that, just give me somewhere cold so that Brady can work his magic while the opposing quarterback shivers.