For many football fans, this game is the main event of the weekend, as legendary Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning face-off for the 15th time in their careers for the AFC Championship as the New England Patriots go into Denver to take on the Broncos on Sunday afternoon.
The keys to this game will start and end with the quarterback. For the Patriots, Brady will be the tone setter. He may not trust his receivers early on in the game because of the size differences against the Broncos secondary, but for the first time in years, the Pats have a great running game, led by former Tampa Bay Buccaneer RB LeGarette Blount.
Blount, along with Steven Ridley, will be able to take a ton of pressure off of Brady, while going up the middle on a Broncos defense that was barely average during the regular season.
The passing game for New England isn’t daunting as it was in the past, but Tom Brady has the ability to win games late with the arm and his overall experience, that alone makes the Broncos have to be leery of Brady possibly going off for 4 TDS to players no one knows.
On the opposite side, the Broncos have the best chance to truly put the pressure on Brady early if Peyton Manning can catch the Patriots off guard with wild snap counts, similar to what Manning did with the “Omaha” calls to the San Diego Chargers last week.
The Broncos also have a strong running game with Knowshon Moreno & Montae Ball being the bruiser. Not to mention, Manning has dominant receivers in Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas, all whom Manning has made into superstars in the league.
Aqib Talib will have his hands full stopping just one of those dominant receivers, but because all have very different styles of catching, route running and physical skills that it may be hard for the DBs to lock down Manning’s targets.
As far as the intangibles, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick and Broncos Coach John Fox are two of the best in football, and while Belichick has all of the skills and schemes to figure out most players, Manning, at this point in his career, is playing as good as ever before, which means Fox should just say…..”Peyton, run the team, im gonna chill.”
Broncos 35, Patriots 24.