Brady vs. Manning: The End of an Era: AFC Championship (Patriots at Broncos) Preview

This is the 17th time Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will face off, possibly the last.  Between the Colts and the Broncos, Manning knows are team too well.  He knows Brady, he knows Belichick, so we have to play are game, but run a couple plays that we don’t normally do.  The New England Patriots take on the Denver Broncos at Mile High.  In November, we went to Denver and they came back to win 30-24, but it was Brock Osweiler under center last time, Manning was out with plantar fasciitis.

NFL Roundtable: The Best Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning Game
Tom Brady face off for the 17th time in the AFC Championship but this might be the last if Manning retires.

My Prediction: Patriots, 27, Broncos, 23

So, who has the advantage in this game?  You saw in Week 12, it will be a close game, tough match-up and very physical game.  So, lets break it down.  Injuries had way more of an impact in Week 12 than now, Edelman was out, DeMarcus Ware was out, Gronk left, Hightower, Collins and Amendola sat too.  Now, we have a team at decent health, so does Denver.

Denver has a dominant front seven: Sylvester Williams, Malik Jackson, Derek Wolfe, DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, Brandon Marshall, Danny Trevathan and Shane Ray.  That’s EIGHT GUYS, you can only start 7!!  Their secondary also includes star corners Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. plus T.J. Ward and Bradley Roby.  Steven Jackson, Brandon Bolden and James White better be ready to bull through the defense and find space between the stars, and I trust that they can.  I also think that the secondary isn’t strong enough to guard Gronk, Edelman, Amendola, Chandler, LaFell and Keshawn Martin.  I think 2 of these 8 will score: Jackson, Bolden, Edelman, LaFell, Amendola, Gronk, Chandler.  My original prediction was Gronk and Chandler but now I’m thinking maybe Jackson, Bolden or a receiver will score.

Now Denver’s offense.  The Broncos even without Peyton Manning would have an overpowered offense.  C.J. Anderson usually really shows up this time of year, while Ronnie Hillman continues to do his thing.  Plus the receiving game didn’t just use DeMaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders last time.  They used Vernon Davis, Owen Daniels, Cody Latimer and Andre Caldwell, who had a TD, too.  But the young Patriots secondary will have to try and stop Denver’s pass, they should be able to double cover Thomas, and contain Sanders and Daniels on one man coverage.  Vernon Davis, Virgil Green and those sleep receivers, may let loose.  They also need to do a better job containing the running game.  But in the end, despite facing to more overpowered defense, and being the road team, I think the Pats have the edge with their offense’s match-up and will win by a nose.

 

Keys To The Game

Patriots

  1. Even against a ferocious front seven, the Patriots run game needs to keep it up.  Tom Brady might not have the protection he needs, and he’ll have to depend on his backfield. They have the individual players to do it, the questions are: Do they work together enough to?,  Is the match-up against the defense in their favor?
  2. The Broncos run game is revamped too with CJ Anderson at his best.  The Patriots have struggled to stop the run all year.  This game, they need to excel at it.
  3. The young Patriots secondary needs to contain a large number of Broncos receivers that make up its offense’s core.  Last time, sleep receiver Andre Caldwell caught the TD that brought the game to overtime, where CJ Anderson had a long run for a touchdown.

Broncos

  1. The Patriots have just as good of receivers when healthy.  The Broncos secondary isn’t quite as good as their pass rush, and they might have trouble keeping the receivers from doing much.  Between Edelman, LaFell, Amendola, Keshawn Martin, Gronk and Chandler, there’s plenty of guys to cover.
  2. CJ Anderson needs to pick up the pace.  Between some big games, he’s still been somewhat consistent unlike late last year, even when Manning’s super bowl hopes got crushed in the Divisional Round last year Anderson made an impact.
  3. The Broncos need to use their receiving depth to their advantage.  Unleash all their sleep receivers and play like the Pats haven’t seen them play yet.

Injury Report

New England Patriots (13-4)

 

Out

​G Tre’ Jackson – Knee (LP)
OL LaAdrian Waddle – Shoulder (LP)

 

Doubtful

NONE

 

Questionable

WR Danny Amendola – Knee (LP)
TE Scott Chandler – Knee (LP)
LB Jamie Collins – Back (LP)
DB Nate Ebner – Hand (LP)
WR Julian Edelman – Foot (LP)
LB Darius Fleming – Back/Shin (LP)
LB Jonathan Freeny – Hand (LP)
TE Rob Gronkowski – Knee/Back (LP)
LB Dont’a Hightower – Knee (LP)
DE Chandler Jones – Abdomen/Toe (LP)
DE Rob Ninkovich – Shin (LP)
WR Matthew Slater – Shin (LP)
C Bryan Stork – Ankle (LP)
OT Sebastian Vollmer – Ankle (LP)

 

Probable

QB Tom Brady – Ankle (FP)
S Patrick Chung – Foot (FP)
OL Josh Kline – Shoulder (FP)
WR Brandon LaFell – Foot (FP)
S Devin McCourty – Ankle (FP)

 

Denver Broncos (13-4)

 

Out

NONE

 

Doubtful

NONE

 

Questionable 

NONE

 

Probable
S Josh Bush – Shoulder
TE Owen Daniels – Knees
ILB Todd Davis – Shoulder
G Max Garcia – Groin
CB Chris Harris Jr. – Shoulder
QB Peyton Manning – Foot
ILB Brandon Marshall – Ankle
QB Brock Osweiler – Knee
S Darian Steward – Hamstring
S T.J. Ward – Ankle
OLB DeMarcus Ware – Knee
CB Bradley Roby – Quadricep

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NFL Week 9 Picks

Last week was shaky, but come on, it’s time for me to get real.  I’m basing my picks from here on out on a combination of one, what I’ve seen, and two, as always, the predictions out of my mind and my gut.  So, again, lets GET REAL.  Now on with my picks.

Lock Of The Week

Patriots, 41, Redskins, 17

The Redskins defense is no match for Brady's dominance.
The Redskins defense is no match for Brady’s dominance.

This game is kind of a joke.  But we are the Patriots.  We can’t treat it like that.  We have to prepare for it like any other game.  Still, this will be a big blowout.  Both of the best defenders on the team are questionable.  Without Ryan Kerrigan and DeAngelo Hall, the Patriots will put on a show.

Blount Force Trauma will still get guarded if Kerrigan plays.  But Dion Lewis will have a big game, even if Terrance Knighton, the third biggest component, guards him.  This will still be a bigger game for Brady to pass to all his weapons.  I could see Danny Amendola having a huge game, with Gronk or Edelman guarded by Hall.  In the last three games, Amendola is 16 for 19 with 202 yards and a touchdown.  In weeks 1-5, Amendola was 10 for 13 with only 98 yards and a touchdown.

On the Redskins side, their rushing game will not be functional against a heavily rush based Patriots defense.  But if DeSean Jackson returns, he has potential to be a star.  But with Devin McCourty on him some of the time, Jackson may be limited.  If he’s out, I’d expect Jamison Crowder’s surprises to continue.  Sure, he’s hasn’t yet been effective in the end zone, but he’ll be tempted to score his first NFL touchdown.  Jordan Reed will get the rest of Devin McCourty or Patrick Chung, so tight ends won’t be functional either.

Notable Locks: Saints over Titans, Bengals over Browns, Jets over Jaguars, Steelers over Raiders

Upset Of The Week

Colts, 51, Broncos, 33

The Colts offense will put on a show to shock Denver, and place them in the loss column.
The Colts offense will put on a show to shock Denver, and place them in the loss column.

 The Colts have more potential in their offense than you might think, even against the almighty Broncos defense.  The Colts’ running backs will have full guard.  Frank Gore and Ahmad Bradshaw have DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller on them.  But the receivers and tight ends are in better hands.  Really good players like T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Dwayne Allen will have full guard (Aqib Talib, Bradley Roby, Brandon Marshall or T.J. Ward), Guys that haven’t gotten their chance yet this year, like Andre Johnson, Philip Dorsett and Coby Fleener, could have dominant games and lead the Colts offense to a breakout.

The Colts defense fits the Broncos offense pretty darn well.  C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman have D’ Qwell Jackson and Robert Mathis.  DeMaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have Vontae Davis and Greg Toler.  Vernon Davis should also have Darius Butler.  That leaves just Cody Latimer and Owen Daniels, oh, and also now third string tight end Virgil Green.  Thy still can rack up lots of points, but they will have a little more trouble than Indy getting to the end zone, giving        Indy the upset win.

Notable Upsets: Panthers over Packers, Cowboys over Eagles

Other Games

Jets, 37, Jaguars, 27

Bills, 28, Dolphins, 21

Bengals, 28, Browns, 21

Steelers, 20, Raiders, 16

Saints, 24, Titans, 9

Chargers, 24, Bears, 20

Cowboys, 34, Eagles, 27

Giants, 20, Buccaneers, 17

Panthers, 17, Packers, 6 (NOTE: Panthers defense dominates, Packers fail to score on them)

Vikings, 37, Rams, 34

Falcons, 34, 49ers, 20

Team Of The Week

  1. This team has typically been good, but is a feast or famine team
  2. This team lost a star this off season, but this player has been disappointing on his new team.
  3. This team’s defensive coordinator is the brother of a head coach in the AFC.
  4. This team’s division was very weak last year.
  5. This team has a quarterback I would consider top 10 all time material.

What team is this?  Guess in comments.

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