Here we go, the divisional round games are all behind us and it is on to the AFC Championship round of the NFL Playoffs. Things are getting more fun and more stressful by the week. Teams like the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos have earned their right to battle each other with a Super Bowl spot on the line.
The Patriots dispatched the Kansas City Chiefs walking wounded at home last week, 27-20 and saw the return of a Tom Brady favorite, Julian Edelman. Meanwhile, the Broncos welcomed in the beaten up Pittsburgh Steelers and found a way to win at home, 23-16, in the return of Peyton Manning as the team’s starter. This game will be billed as Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady but it is so much more than that. Let’s take a look at 2015-16 AFC Championship Predictions, Picks Patriots vs Broncos
Denver Broncos over New England Patriots
It is feeling more and more like a broken record but the New England Patriots are in the AFC Championship game. That makes it five consecutive years that the crew from Foxboro return to the cusp of the Super Bowl. In the four previous attempts, they are 2-2 including last year when they knocked off the Indianapolis Colts to punch their Super Bowl tickets. Meanwhile, the Broncos are only two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance when they fell at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. To punch their tickets that year they beat the New England Patriots.
While all that history is well and good, this is a different match-up with a different vibe. The Broncos offense was led by the prolific passing attack of Peyton Manning last time, this time it is all about a stellar Denver Broncos defense. Meanwhile, the Patriots are still here because of the arm of Tom Brady but a quality defense is no small factor.
Look at the comparison like this, the Patriots have met or eclipsed the 30 point mark in seven games this year while the Broncos have accomplished the feat a mere two times yet the Broncos are the number one seed. For the Broncos, one of those two was a Week 12 win 30-24 against the Patriots.
Last week Brady saw the return of Julian Edelman, who was an immediate impact in the passing attack while an injured Rob Gronkowski was still Gronk by hauling in two touchdowns and playing a key role in the Patriots passing game. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning was more effective than given credit for. However, uncharacteristically the Broncos receivers got a case of the drops including Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Manning does not have zip on his ball but that has been gone for a couple of years. What I did take away from the game was that Peyton looked rested thanks in part to missing all those weeks. That should ironically serve him and the Broncos was heading into this game.
Vegas is giving the edge in this one to the Patriots by three which really makes them favored by six if you consider the home field three point plus up. I just do not see that boiling out that way. I lean towards the running game. The Patriots just do not have one and admittedly do not always need one. But the Patriots are susceptible to the run (allow 135 per/game) and Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson are a formidable duo in the Broncos backfield. I would expect a large dose of the Broncos running game which will keep the Patriots offense off the field while keeping the Broncos defense rested.
This will not be a battle of Peyton vs Tom but rather a battle of the Broncos whole squad against the Patriots roster. This should be a slugfest between the number one and two seeds in the AFC. Brady will be solid and the Broncos running game will be solid. The X-Factor will be what level of play that Peyton brings. If he plays like last week and the Broncos receivers do not drop every other pass I can see the Broncos squeaking it out at home. That level of play is well within the realm of Manning, who for once, will not be asked to win the game. I can see a game that finishes 23-21 with the Broncos making a field goal late to propel them to victory.
Weigh in below on what you think we will come of the Patriots vs Broncos AFC Championship game this weekend or even on the breakdown of 2015-16 AFC Championship Predictions, Picks Patriots vs Broncos . Let’s hear it.