So at the beginning of the season, if you asked most pundits who the top two teams in each conference were, you were likely to get some combination of the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, and New England Patriots. Lo and behold, with only four teams left, that’s exactly who we have left. That being said, these are teams that all took very different routes to the NFC and AFC title games. Let’s take a look at some of the storylines that led us to the AFC title game.
New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos
How we arrived here:
Denver arrived here much like everyone thought they would, by riding a record setting QB campaign from a future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning. This team put together the best passing season in football history with weapons just about everywhere you look in Welker, Decker, and both Thomases. Though their defense isn’t the best unit in the playoffs and injuries to Champ Bailey and Miller have them at less than full strength, it became clear that when you only have to hold the other team to under 24 points in order to win that this unit was more than capable.
The Patriots honestly couldn’t have had more things go wrong without entering “probably cursed by an old vengeful gypsy woman” territory. From the end of last season to now: they have lost one of the tight ends that this offense was predicated on to seeming serial killer charges; one to yet another season ending injury; their top RB forgot how to hand on to the ball; their Welker replacement couldn’t stay on the field; their rookie wideouts couldn’t stay healthy; their defense was ravaged by injuries. Oh, and along the way they just went on to put up the second best record in their division and make their millionth AFC title game during the Brady-Belichick rule.
This is a rematch of an earlier season game the Pats won by rallying back from huge deficit at home, can Denver put it out of reach early with its home advantage?
- Where’s Wes?:
Tom Brady’s favorite target is now catching passes from his biggest rival, when the game gets close everyone has to believe its going to come down to Welker making a play that changes the game one way or another.
- Brady vs Manning:
This is somewhere close to round 50 between these two and one has to think with neither of them getting any younger that this one will mean all the more in terms of their respective legacies
The Patriots barely eked out a victory at their house during the regular season, after watching Peyton light them up early. One underreported part of that comeback is that the Broncos were up big due to multiple turnovers. Look for that to change here as the Bill Belichick has again turned one man’s trash into treasure with the suddenly white hot Lagarrete Blount. The Pats will use Blount to keep the Broncos off the field before unleashing Shane Vereen and thus, poor tackling Denver D. Welker gets a score, but it is not enough as the Pats go to yet another Super Bowl.
New England 31 Denver 24
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