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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Houston 1 Top 6th Inning
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 Bottom 5th Inning
Minnesota 5
St. Louis 3 Top 6th Inning
Detroit 2
Baltimore 6 Top 6th Inning
NY Yankees 1
Boston 6 Bottom 5th Inning
Tampa Bay 5
Toronto 3 Bottom 5th Inning
Pittsburgh 4
Atlanta 1 Top 6th Inning
Toronto 3
Washington 1 Bottom 6th Inning
NY Mets 4
Chicago Cubs 3:05 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 3:05 PM
Texas
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Seattle
Colorado 3:05 PM
Chicago Cubs
Cleveland 3:05 PM
Milwaukee
Oakland 3:05 PM
Chicago WSox
Los Angeles 3:10 PM
LA Angels
Kansas City 3:10 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 6:00 PM
Charlotte
New York 7:00 PM
Chicago
Golden State 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
Oklahoma City 8:00 PM
Utah
Denver 9:00 PM
Portland
Nashville 4 3rd Prd 15:35
Washington 3
Arizona 0 2nd Prd 1:55
Pittsburgh 0
San Jose 2 3rd Prd
Philadelphia 1
Anaheim 3 3rd Prd
NY Islanders 1
NY Rangers 1 2nd Prd :30
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 2nd Prd
Detroit 0
New Jersey 6:00 PM
Carolina
Florida 6:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Toronto
Los Angeles 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Columbus 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 8:00 PM
Colorado
Dallas 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Arizona 5:09 PM
Wisconsin
Canisius 6:30 PM
NJIT
Notre Dame 7:49 PM
Kentucky
San Jose 2:00 PM
New England
Orlando City 3:00 PM
Montreal
Los Angeles 6:00 PM
D.C.
Sporting Kansas City 6:00 PM
New York City
Red Bull New York 6:30 PM
Columbus
Portland 7:00 PM
Vancouver FC
Colorado 7:30 PM
Houston
Seattle 7:30 PM
FC Dallas
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 11 1st Half 10:14
(8) Louisville 18
(16) Duke 3:30 PM
(4) Maryland
Gonzaga 6:00 PM
(6) Tennessee
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9
 
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