New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos Preview
This year’s AFC Championship Game pits two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history against each other yet again, as Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots with a trip to Super Bowl 50 on the line. While both quarterbacks are legends, they are heading in two different directions at the moment, and their play will be what determines who wins this game and augments their legacy yet again.
Denver Broncos Win With Defense
For the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning has been more of a liability than anything during their run to the AFC Championship Game. His arm strength and accuracy have clearly diminished compared to previous points in his career, which has negatively impacted the team’s ability to put points on the board. With that said, the Denver Broncos’ defense is the best in the NFL and should be able to keep them in contention in this game.
The keys for the Denver Broncos on defense will be to prevent New England’s weapons in the passing game from getting off the line of scrimmage cleanly, using press coverage to slow their receivers down. This will allow Denver’s pass rush, which is among the best in the NFL, to have the time to get to Tom Brady, who tries to avoid opposing pass rushes by throwing the ball quickly. Whichever team is able to influence Tom Brady’s pass timing better in this game should cruise to victory, so watch out for that as the game goes along.
New England Patriots Uncertainties
Sure, the New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs at home in the divisional playoff round, and Tom Brady looked crisp in throwing to the once again healthy Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, but the team was far from perfect in that game. Now that they are in the AFC Championship Game, the team’s uncertainties will be scrutinized, as they could cost Bill Belichick another trip to the Super Bowl.
Defensively, New England looked shaky against the Chiefs, a team that isn’t at all known for its offensive prowess. Since Kansas City is a team that doesn’t possess the quarterback play necessary to score touchdowns in the red zone, they had to settle for several field goals, which kept things relatively straight forward for the Patriots en route to a seven point victory.
In this game, the New England Patriots can’t afford to struggle on defense, as they are taking on an elite defensive team with far more offensive prowess. If the Patriots let Peyton Manning throw the ball as effectively as Alex Smith was able to last week, it will be the Denver Broncos playing in Super Bowl 50 instead of the Patriots looking to win back to back championships.
This AFC Championship Game will be a fascinating matchup between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, who have went head to head so many times in big games. This could be the last time the two play against one another, and could be Peyton Manning’s last career game, which adds just one more layer of intrigue to an already intriguing game.
By: Jason M. Sanin