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The Boston Globe

Sports

Christopher L. Gasper

Real playoffs start next week for Patriots

FOXBOROUGH — The good news is the Patriots are hosting the AFC Championship game next Sunday. The bad news is that there was not any development that came out of Sunday’s vanilla victory over the Houston Texans in the divisional playoffs that made you more confident a fourth Lombardi Trophy will be taking up residence at Patriot Place.

This game was the equivalent of an open-book test for the Patriots. The AFC title-game rematch with the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday at Gillette Stadium will not be the same, and neither will the Atlanta Falcons or San Francisco 49ers if the Patriots reach Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3.

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