AFC Championship Game preview

  • Updated: January 18, 2014 - 5:30 PM

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

When: 2 p.m.

TV: Ch. 4 (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Nancy Wolfson)

Line: Broncos by 5½

The skinny

This is the matchup everyone has been waiting for: Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. The aging quarterbacks again battling for a chance to play in the Super Bowl. If the Patriots win, Brady will be playing in his sixth title game in the past 13 years. If Manning wins, he might shed his reputation as someone who fades on the big stage. But, it’s not necessarily the same old story this time around. Both the Broncos and Patriots have been winning with balanced offenses, relying not only on the arms of their record-breaking quarterbacks but also on their running games. This is the Patriots’ first road playoff game since the 2006 season. Both teams have been very good in conference title games (Patriots 7-2, Broncos 6-2).

The series

New England overcame a 24-0 halftime deficit on Nov. 24 to defeat Denver 34-31 in overtime. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is 7-10 vs. the Broncos. Broncos coach John Fox is 1-6 vs. the Patriots.

playoff star

The Patriots use a trio of running backs, but none was more productive last week than LeGarrette Blount. He had a monster day against the Colts, rushing 24 times for 166 yards and four TDs.

The STAT

The Patriots might have beaten the Broncos in November, but the last time Manning lost twice in a row to the same team was in 2007. He has won five rematches in a row.

When Patriots have the ball

Denver has a dilemma: Would it rather force the clutch-passing Brady to go to the air or deal with the run game? The Broncos defense was staunch for most of the divisional-round victory over San Diego, but it has lots of holes and is without its best player, injured linebacker Von Miller. Losing cornerback Chris Harris to a knee injury won’t help, either.

When Broncos have the ball

Patriots coach Bill Belichick will instruct his defensive backs to be extra physical from the outset. So the ability of receivers big — Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and tight end Julius Thomas — and small (Wes Welker) to avoid those bumps and remain on their routes will be critical for Denver.

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Chicago WSox 3 Top 7th Inning
Cleveland 0
Atlanta 2 Top 3rd Inning
Chicago Cubs 2
NY Yankees 1 Top 4th Inning
Baltimore 0
Arizona 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
San Francisco 0
St. Louis 5 Top 3rd Inning
Milwaukee 0
Miami 1 Top 3rd Inning
NY Mets 0
Boston 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Houston 0
Minnesota 2 Top 3rd Inning
Colorado 0
Toronto 1 Bottom 3rd Inning
Tampa Bay 1
Detroit - R. Porcello 6:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Washington - S. Strasburg 6:15 PM
Philadelphia - C. Hamels
Pittsburgh - C. Morton 6:15 PM
Cincinnati - M. Leake
LA Angels - J. Weaver 6:15 PM
Texas - M. Mikolas
San Diego - I. Kennedy 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - P. Maholm
Oakland - J. Chavez 9:10 PM
Seattle - H. Iwakuma
Colorado 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 6:00 PM
Toronto FC
Columbus 6:00 PM
Red Bull New York
Chicago 6:30 PM
New England
Sporting Kansas City 6:30 PM
Montreal
Chivas USA 9:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Winnipeg 34 FINAL
Montreal 33
Ottawa 11 FINAL
Edmonton 27
Calgary 5:30 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 8:30 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 7/17/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Toronto 7/18/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Hamilton 7/18/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Montreal 7/19/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Atlanta 6:00 PM
Indiana
Washington 7:00 PM
Tulsa
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon
 
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