The New England Patriots are in their tenth conference championship of the Brady/Belichick era. Think about that for a second. Tom Brady has been the starting quarterback of this team since 2001. That is 15 years. He has gotten the to this point ten times. In reality, he has done it ten out of 14, because he was injured for the 2008 season. That is absolutely insane. They will face the Denver Broncos in Denver.
This Denver Broncos team is not the same Broncos team that we saw a few years ago. Peyton Manning is a shell of himself, to put it kindly. They are one of the weakest one seeds in recent memory. However, Denver is never an easy place to play.
When the Patriots visited Denver in November, they were without Julian Edelman, Jamie Collins, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski for a good chunk of the game, and Dont’a Hightower for the second half. Not to mention Dion Lewis and Nate Solder had already been lost for the season. Needless to say, they were pretty beat up. They were also facing a Broncos team with a far superior quarterback under center in Brock Osweiler. This time around, Peyton Manning will be quarterbacking the Broncos.
Offensively, the Patriots should be able to move the ball. I expect a game plan similar to that of last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, when they totally abandoned the run and just aired it out. They will not be able to run on Denver. Don’t even try. Good running backs struggle against that team. They will also get rid of the ball quickly because Denver, like Kansas City, has a very good pass rush. The Patriots’ offensive line allowed only two quarterback knock downs on Saturday, and did not allow a sack. A lot of that is due to Julian Edelman being healthy again, but the line will have to play that well again.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots should not have any trouble whatsoever. Peyton Manning, despite what Phil Simms and Jim Nantz told you on that broadcast, was throwing lollipops. He still has zero zip on the ball. It is disgusting that Manning gets credit for that victory when in reality, the running backs did all of the work and the defense forced a fumble on a drive that it looked like Pittsburgh was about to put the game away. Manning did nothing. Except give himself up on a play, get up, and complete a pass downfield after the Steelers had stopped playing because HE GAVE HIMSELF UP, and then get praised for it by Simms. Hey Phil, even Peyton said after the game that he wants to delete that off the tape. It was not a great heads-up play. It was a horrible call by the officials.
Manning rant over. For now.
Yes, crazy stuff happens in Denver. Brady and the Patriots may not play their best out in the Rockies. However, Brady has had really only one terrible game out there. That was in a 2001 regular season game. He has had a few game where he has actually played very well, including a great performance in the 2011 regular season. He also played well with no weapons earlier this year. The referees just had no interest in allowing Denver to lose that game. Disgusting.
Anyway, as I was saying, Denver is not the easiest place to play for the Patriots. However, they have a very good team this year and are facing a very beatable team in Denver. If everything goes according to plan, I will be booking a ticket to San Francisco in just a few days. All the Patriots have to do is DO YOUR JOB.