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Samsonite Make Your Case: Marquee Matchups

The playoffs have finally arrived in Foxborough and the Patriots will have an interesting battle with the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs tomorrow evening. With so many marquee players are each side nursing injuries, it's difficult to figure out exactly how the various matchups are going to unfold.

For the Patriots there are concerns about Rob Gronkowski's knee and back, Julian Edelman's foot, Dont'a Hightower's knee and many others. On the flip side, the Chiefs are dealing with Jeremy Maclin's ankle, Justin Houston's knee and Tamba Hali's knee and thumb.

How those injuries impact the game remains to be seen, but assuming most of those players will be on the field on Saturday it should make for some quality matchups.

This week's Samsonite Make Your Case question seeks to identify the best one. Which matchup is the most intriguing for Saturday's divisional round game against Kansas City?

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PFW's Andy Hart says …

Rob Gronkowski vs. Eric Berry

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Eric Berry and everything he's overcome. To post an All-Pro season after being struck by cancer is an amazing accomplishment. But the storybook comeback ends here.

Assuming Rob Gronkowski is healthy enough to perform at a reasonable level, he will dominate Berry and be the key to the Patriots offensive attack. No one can slow down the big tight end and as good as Berry is he won't be able to handle the 6-6, 265-pound All-Pro either.

Berry is giving away about six inches and 60 pounds in this matchup and Gronkowski's uncommon athleticism will make him impossible to control. Tom Brady has been waiting to get Gronk back into the mix between the hashes where he is most dangerous and now that the playoffs are here there's no reason to wait any longer.

Gronkowski will enjoy a huge game and return the offense to its early-season heights. Berry is great but he's no match for Gronk. -- AH

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PFW's Paul Perillo says …

Jamie Collins vs. Travis Kelce

This matchup may not be one-on-one but I expect to see Jamie Collins using his athleticism trying to stay with the Chiefs biggest threat in the passing game – tight end Travis Kelce. Kelce is a lot like Rob Gronkowski in his ability to move and catch, and he's the Chiefs go-to guy. 

Although he's not as strong as Gronk he is excellent after the catch and has hurt the Patriots in the past. Collins will be involved in the underneath coverage while the Patriots will probably add some safety help with Patrick Chung and/or Devin McCourty as well. How this matchup unfolds will be a huge factor in the game.

The Patriots defense has generally had success identifying and taking away the opponent's top weapon, but Kelce is used to teams trying to do that and Collins won't have an easy time of it. I expect both to make plays and I'm looking forward to watching two Pro Bowlers go at it.  -- PP

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