The Denver Broncos are set to face off with the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. What are your predictions?
It’s suiting how the NFC and the AFC both bubble down to the best two teams on each respective side. It gives you the feeling that all has fallen into place, and the one who wants the championship the most is going to get there. The Broncos and the Patriots have both been in Super Bowl chatter for the whole season, but can’t meet in it because they’re in the same conference. This means that there can only be one.
In all honesty, neither the Broncos nor the Patriots are defensively “special” teams. At 12-4, the Patriots have been fueled by their offensive game, and at 13-3, the Broncos can say the same thing. It is generally understood that “defense wins championships” but obviously, what fans truly like to see is the offensive brilliance of different quarterbacks. While this is important, the players are mostly focused on winning games.
Manning and Brady will be the 1st QBs to meet in playoff games 10 seasons apart in the Super Bowl era (2003 & 2013 AFC Championship games).
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 14, 2014
The Patriots are ranked near the bottom of the league in opponents’ rushing yards at 30th, and at 18th (not much better) in opponents’ passing yards. When a Denver fan sees a stat like that, they’ll probably rejoice. What they fail to realize, however, is that their own team ranks a dismal 27th in the league in opponents’ passing yards, and a respectably 8th in rushing yards. In both of these offensive categories, the Patriots rank in the top 10. The Broncos are 1st in passing yards, of course, but 15th in rushing yards.
Rest assured, this is going to be a high-scoring game. Yes, both teams are equipped offensively, but defensively, whichever one plays harder is going to end up being the difference. Brady vs Manning is a classic matchup and a very suitable one. If both of them are “on their game”, however, one of the defenses is going to have to come through to make some big plays, giving their team the mental and physical boost en route to the Super Bowl. It’s as simple as that.
Offensively speaking (the part that everyone actually cares about), Denver has all the firepower that one can imagine, but let’s not forget that New England has the ability to play well in clutch situations, as Tom Brady is particularly good at making the best out of a bad situation. He makes something out of nothing because he doesn’t have any standout receivers, other than TE Rob Gronkowski who tore his MCL and ACL earlier in the season.
Bleacher Report says:
Led by LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley, New England pounded out 234 yards and an eye-popping six touchdowns on the ground to knock off the Indianapolis Colts. A similar game plan with anywhere near as much success is also the best way to beat the Broncos.
This attack plan could be particularly effective for the Patriots. Not only can Tom Brady throw when he needs to, but also LeGarrette Blount proved that he has what it takes when it comes to the rushing game. He stepped up to score an “eye-popping” 4/6 of the Patriots’ touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts, en route to a 43-22 victory. The other two touchdowns were also rushing for the Patriots’ other RB Stevan Ridley. This is a game where Brady only had 198 passing yards.
The Broncos are a decent team when it comes to defending the rushing game, but in respect to Brady, who can make some clutch passes to players such as Julian Edelman Danny Amendola (53 yard pass from Brandy vs Colts), the rushing game will be useful. When Brady needs to, he can find his receivers and toss them the ball with only a little bit of daylight. If the Patriots’ rushing game is unstoppable, like against the Colts, then why not utilize it.
The Broncos have an equal shot at winning this game, but the Patriots found themselves to be victorious in a 34-31 OT victory over the Broncos thanks to heroics from Brady. If the Patriots defense comes through, they will be heading back to the Super Bowl. If not, however, they will see Manning throw for over 350 yards and lock up the victory for his team.
The Patriots have a very good chance to win this game, but again, their weak defense is going to have to make some big stops in the passing field and take advantage of Manning’s recent offensive “struggles”. They also need to rely more on their rushing game then on their passing game. Brady, however is clutch. This is going to be a very close game.