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Hot Button: Pats' biggest AFC threat

AP Photo

In this week's ESPNBoston.com Hot Button, we debate which team poses the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC. Here are our arguments, in a nutshell.

* Denver Broncos: Not to oversimplify the matter, but the Broncos are the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC because of one man: Peyton Manning. And while Manning is the primary reason the Broncos are so potent, they also possess the best pass rush in all of football (37.0 sacks already), and one that gave the Patriots some trouble back in Week 5. In fact, more than 25 percent of the sacks allowed by the Patriots in 2012 came against the Broncos, led by a two-sack effort from standout linebacker Von Miller.

* Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens likely will emerge as the champions of one of the NFL's toughest divisions, and chances are, the Patriots will need to travel to Baltimore if the teams meet in the playoffs. In Week 3, the Patriots couldn't pull out a win in Baltimore, and the stakes will be even higher in January. Oh, and the Ravens will have Terrell Suggs this time, too.

* Houston Texans: They have the conference's best record at 10-1, their only hiccup a blowout loss to the Packers. They have since beaten the Bears, Ravens and just won back-to-back games in overtime. They travel to New England on Monday, Dec. 10 in what could be a playoff preview. If they meet in January, though, the game is likely to be in Houston.

Your turn: Who do you think poses the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC? Vote in the poll above and share your thoughts in the comments section.