Now, it’s time for the real playoffs to begin.

The New England Patriots host the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. The Chiefs dominated the Houston Texans 30-0 in the wild-card round, and have won 11 consecutive games.

They’re also the team that destroyed the Patriots 41-14 in Week 4 last season. That loss, in many ways, turned the Pats’ season around when Bill Belichick declared, “We’re on to Cincinnati.” Soon, the Patriots’ coach was imploring every member of his team to “do your job” as New England marched to its fourth Super Bowl victory.

There were plenty of people not doing their jobs last weekend. In fact, there was plenty of bad football on display as all four road teams came out on top in the first weekend of the playoffs.

In Cincinnati, the Bengals fell to 0-7 in playoff games during the Marvin Lewis era with one of the ugliest losses in NFL history. The Bengals, with the lead and the ball deep in Pittsburgh territory with 1:36 left to go, self-destructed in spectacular fashion. First, Jeremy Hill fumbled. Then, Vontaze Burfict launched himself like a missile and drew a 15-yard personal foul. Adam Jones made contact with an official and drew another 15-yard personal foul, giving the Steelers a chip-shot field goal to win the game.

This is playoff football?

On Sunday, the Vikings dominated the Seahawks through most of their NFC wild-card game. Pete Carroll’s team chipped away and took the lead in the fourth quarter, but Minnesota managed the clock and had their own chip-shot opportunity to win the game.

Instead, Blair Walsh shanked the 27-yard kick after Jeff Locke held the ball with the laces facing his kicker.

Twitter immediately exploded with jokes from the movie “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” when the fictional bad guy Ray Finkle kidnapped quarterback Dan Marino (and the team mascot) after Marino didn’t hold the football “laces out.”

It’s never a good thing when playoff action is being compared to a Jim Carrey comedy. And yet the comedy of errors the NFL has put before us this season continues into the postseason.

The Chiefs dismantling of the Texans made us realize how inferior a team Houston really is. The inept play of Teddy Bridgewater and Kirk Cousins made us realize how few really good quarterbacks there are in this day and age.

The Green Bay Packers, who spent most of the season sleepwalking through a 10-6 season that saw them lose six of the final 10 games, woke up to steamroll Washington on Sunday. The Packers would not have made the playoffs if not for an Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary heave against Detroit. Eddie Lacy – who singlehandedly destroyed many fantasy football teams this season – once again looked like a bull of a running back.

Now, the Packers earn a date with Arizona on Saturday. The Cardinals beat up the Packers 38-8 in the regular season.

The Cardinals? Do most people even know the Cardinals made the playoffs?

Maybe we’ve been spoiled by watching an elite quarterback execute the vision of the greatest coach in the game’s history, but the majority of these NFL games have been hard to watch. It hasn’t affected ratings – we’re watching at all-time highs – but the quality of the games is at an all-time low.

That won’t be the case Saturday afternoon in Foxborough. The Chiefs are disciplined and have a defense that’s among the NFL’s best. K.C. could give New England trouble – even if the Pats get some of their key skilled players back.

New England is 14-3 at home in the playoffs under Belichick. That’s why home-field advantage is so important. That won’t intimidate a Chiefs team that hasn’t lost a game in three months. They’ll come to town ready to put up a fight.

That’s the way it should be. After all, this is the NFL playoffs, where teams and players are at their best.

At least, that’s the theory. Week One of the postseason fell well short of that.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.


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