Date/Time: January 19th, 3:00 PM ET
Spread: Denver -6
The AFC Championship Game is here! With all of the games on the docket each and every week, we are going to be zeroing in on just one side or total that we think is the best of the bunch. Join us today, look at the game on Sunday, January 19th between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos.
We pushed in our efforts with the New Orleans Saints last week against the Seattle Seahawks, but for those of you who got the best numbers available as we got closer to game time, you produced winners. This week, we are going away from the NFC game and headed over to the AFC Championship Game, where the Pats and the Broncos are going to go to battle for the second time this year.
Did you know that WR Wes Welker has more games played, more receptions, more receiving yards, and more receiving touchdowns in his postseason career than the rest of the New England receivers combined? That’s amazing to say, and we have a feeling that that fact is going to come back to bite Head Coach Bill Belichick and his staff in the butt. Remember that Welker left New England, where he really made his career, and flew off to Denver, where he and QB Peyton Manning have built the same type of rapport that he had with QB Tom Brady for all those years with the Patriots.
Of course, this game is going to be billed as Manning vs. Brady, and rightfully so. In one corner, we have the man who broke all of the passing records just a handful of seasons ago when his Patriots ran the table in the regular season and finished out with a loss in the Super Bowl. In the other corner, we have the man that shattered all of those records this year. It goes without saying that these two men should be slugging it out with each other, though we must note that two of the previous three meetings between these two men in the playoffs haven’t come anywhere near the ‘total’. Manning, again, for what it’s worth, has just two touchdown passes in three playoff games against these Patriots.
Earlier this year, the Broncos jumped out to a 24-0 lead thanks to a defensive touchdown and an onslaught offensively. It was from that point on though, that the Brady Bunch took over and scored 34 of the last 41 points of the game to ultimately win 34-31 in overtime.
The day was marred for New England by the 280 rushing yards which the Broncos put on its defense, including 224 yards to RB Knowshon Moreno without giving up a single run of 20 or more yards all day long. Brady threw for 344 yards and three TDs, though we have to remember that he did have TE Rob Gronkowski in that game.
What’s left now are a bunch of receivers with no experience whatsoever, and a man in WR Austin Collie who was literally picked up off of the streets just a few weeks ago. We still don’t know if WR Aaron Dobson or WR Kenbrell Thompkins will play in this one, and that’s only the beginning of the injury problems for the Pats.
New England is also without LB Brandon Spikes, DT Tommy Kelly, T Sebastian Vollmer, LB Jerod Mayo, and DT Vince Wilfork. That’s a boatload of defensive starters, and without these men, this unit just doesn’t look anywhere near as formidable as it would have looked in this game otherwise.
We aren’t seeing a ton of injuries for the Broncos, though LB Von Miller, who had that defensive touchdown we mentioned earlier, is out of the lineup with a torn ACL and is finished for the season.
There are a few factors here from a betting standpoint that have some mixed results. One could say that Manning has played horribly in bad weather in the playoffs in his career. He has been beaten by these Patriots in both of the playoff games which these two played outdoors in his career. However, with high temperatures expected to be in the 50s and no real threat of bad weather, this is about as good as it is going to get for the Broncos’ signal caller. Remember that the one time the Patriots played on the road against Manning, the Indianapolis Colts moved on to the Super Bowl and ultimately won the whole enchilada.
In the end though, we have to go back to that game in the middle of the season. New England had a lot more on the line than Denver did, and it didn’t look like it for the first quarter and change. After that, this was a case of Head Coach John Fox taking the ball out of the hands of his playmaker and putting it in the hands of his backs. Sure, Moreno had a great day, but that’s not this team’s bread and butter. Look for the Broncos to get back to their roots and let Manning throw the pigskin all over the field. It’s a big number to be laying this time of year, but we see far too many flaws in New England’s game to come on the road and challenge what, for our money, has been the best team in football all season long.
NFL Pick of the Week: Denver Broncos -6
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.