The Denver Broncos were able to dispatch of the San Diego Chargers last week, and are now hosting the AFC Championship game. The New England Patriots are rolling into Denver for another Manning versus Brady matchup. Can Peyton Manning lead the Broncos to victory over his long-time rival, or will the Tom Brady playoff success story continue?
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As I watched Phillip Rivers throw a tantrum on the sidelines, I couldn’t help but smile. I breathed a sigh of relief as the clock reached zero. Not only had the Broncos exorcised their demons from 2013, they had done it at the expense of Mr. Bolo Tie himself.
It is a great feeling to be sure; however, the next challenge won’t be so easy. The New England Patriots were waiting for the winner, and are now set to storm into Mile High this Sunday.
The hype-train for this game seemed to start before Peyton Manning got into victory formation. In fact, I seem to remember hearing about it as soon as the Patriots disposed of the Colts. The major networks need this matchup and they love to rub it in your face.
This will be the 4th meeting between Manning and Brady in the playoffs, and the 15th meeting since 2001. Brady holds the advantage in these head-to-head matchups, 10-4. Brady also has the advantage in Super Bowl rings. Brady this, and Brady that.
I’m tired of hearing about how great Tom Brady is.
Look, the Patriots’ playoff record since 2001 speaks for itself. It’s really good. Overall, including the Super Bowl games, their record is 17-6. However, you will notice I did not say Tom Brady’s playoff record. It is the Patriots’ record as a team that is impressive.
Winning in the regular season is one thing, but winning in the playoffs is a total team effort. If you go back and look at the teams Tom Brady has had since 2001, you’ll see they rank near the top offensively and defensively almost every year. Last time I checked, Tantrum Tommy is a quarterback and doesn’t play defense.
This is what makes football so great—it’s about the team. I’m in no way saying that you don’t need a really good quarterback leading your team. The quarterback is the most important position on the field and you can’t win without a good quarterback.
Tom Brady is a really good quarterback, and the Patriots have been dominant on both sides of the ball since he took over the offense in 2001. You can have great players but in order to be a great team, you need someone to put it together and keep it together.
This does come down to one guy, but he’s not playing a position on the field. Bill Belichick. As much as I can’t stand the guy, he is by far the best coach in the NFL. You give him any talent to work with, and he’ll turn that talent into a contender. The Hoodie is good, and he is the reason the Patriots have been so great.
Let’s get back to that Tom Brady playoff record that has been shoved in my face all week. It’s impressive, but let’s take a closer look. Take the Super Bowl games out of the mix, and since 2001, the Patriots have played in 18 playoff games. A whopping 13 of these games have been in Foxborough. They have only lost twice at home in the playoffs, both to the Ravens.
In the 5 games they have played on the road, however, they are 3-2 with losses at the Colts and the Broncos. In addition to this, the Patriots have not played on the road in the playoffs since 2006, where they lost to Manning and his Colts. I chalk this up to not only the team being pretty darn good over this span, but also their division has been awful.
Having the road to the Super Bowl go through Foxborough has been a huge advantage for Brady and his Patriots. It’s not the only reason they have been so great in January, but it certainly helps. They are better at home.
Well, guess what Tommy. You’re not in Foxborough anymore. This Sunday, you’re going to be swimming in a sea of orange. You’re going to try and call your plays against over 76,000 screaming fans. That Mile High Thunder is going to be in full effect. Good luck with that, Tommy.
A lot has been said about the Broncos’ defense this week. Yes, we lost Chris Harris Jr. Yes, that is a big loss for a struggling secondary. Is it the nail in the coffin for the Broncos? Absolutely not!
In case you didn’t notice, the Patriots beat the Colts on the ground, not through the air. They ran the ball 46 times while only throwing it 25 times. The Colts’ run defense was awful all year, giving up 125 rush yards per game on average. Belichick used that to his advantage to the tune of 5.1 yards per carry. Brady didn’t need to throw to beat the Colts.
The Broncos defense held that vaunted Chargers rushing attack in check last week, and have been holding their opponents to 102 rushing yards on average all season. They will hold the Patriots’ run game in check, and Belichick knows this.
This is why we are going to see a totally different offensive attack against the Broncos this week. The Hoodie is going to try and exploit that weak secondary all day, but these guys are no slouches.
Champ Bailey may not be the same player he once was, but make no mistake, he can still play at a high level. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been the definition of shutdown corner this year. Don’t forget, he was injured in the first half and didn’t play in the second half of the game in November.
Many people forget how good Tony Carter was last year and how good he started this year. I don’t understand why he hasn’t seen the field much. The guy has been chomping at the bit to get out there and he needs to be on the field Sunday.
We also can’t forget about the job the big boys up front did last week against Rivers. They were able to get continuous pressure, logging 4 sacks and 5 hits on the quarterback. Shaun Phillips has been a beast all season and he will be in Brady’s face all day.
Go ahead and call this defense terrible all you want, but from what I saw last week, these guys can get it done. This is not the 2007 high powered Patriots. They don’t have anywhere near the offensive talent they have had in the past. It’s impressive what Belichick has gotten out of these guys, but this is not a defense shredding offense anymore.
Having said all that, the Broncos will have to play their best game of the season on both sides of the ball in order to win Sunday. They can’t leave points on the field like they did against the Chargers as the Patriots will take full advantage if they do.
The last time Tantrum Tommy and the vaunted Patriots played on the road in the playoffs was against the Colts. It is the only playoff win Peyton Manning has against Brady, and not coincidentally, his only home playoff game against him. It is only fitting they meet again this year.
Home field is what the Broncos worked for all season and Peyton Manning is ready for his second playoff game at home against Brady.
Welcome to Broncos Country, Tommy. Good luck with that.
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