Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots
The fairy tale matchup in the AFC takes center stage this weekend as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots head into Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos in what should be an amazing contest. The Broncos are -6.5 point favorites over the Patriots with an over/under point total set at 54.5
The Patriots return to the AFC Championship game where they were ousted by the Baltimore Ravens last season and will look to make amends by going into Mile High and leaving with another berth to the Super Bowl. New England has been scrutinized all season long for their lack of offensive playmakers, their depleted defense, and by winning by the skin of their teeth yet somehow they are only one of four remaining teams left standing in the NFL this season. Tom Brady is a winner and whether you’re a fan of his or not you have to respect the fact that he has had much success in this league and he can cement his legacy as one of the greatest ever with another Super Bowl victory. The Pats are without their top five receiving options from a year ago and their running game has been a crapshoot all season but it was LeGarrette Blount who stole the headlines last week as he walked all over the Colts to the tune of 144 yards and 4 touchdowns. Yet the Patriots head into Denver as an underdog just shy of a touchdown and it’ll be considered an “upset” if Brady and Belichick head to New York for the Super Bowl. The Pats defeated the Broncos in their only meeting this season in what was one of the most exciting games of the year as they fought back from 24 points down in prime time only to escape with a field goal victory in overtime setting up what should be a memorable contest one way or another.
The Broncos have been the class of the AFC all season long as they locked down the Conference’s top seed, set a plethora of team and individual records (which they stole from New England) and have been the most complete team in the AFC on both sides of the ball. Peyton Manning has been remarkable to watch this season as he seemingly effortless movement of the Denver offense was the greatest in single season history and he will look to cap it off with his second Super Bowl ring on the field in which his brother calls home. The loss of Von Miller on defense is definitely a big one but the team was able to find success without him in the lineup for the first quarter of the season and they know they’ll have to do so without him if they want to get to the big dance and I expect the rest of the Broncos defense to step up. Wes Welker is enjoying his first year in Denver and what a perfect matchup for him to play against his former club and exorcise any demons that might be lasting from New England’s Super Bowl loss to the Giants two years ago in which Welker was heavily criticized for dropping a late catch. All the storylines considered set this up to be one of the best games in history and while I love watching sports as much as the next guy I am a firm believer that story lines prevail especially in the NFL. As such, I think the Broncos take this one as Manning gets the opportunity to tie his brother for Super Bowl titles and win it in New York, consider the possibility of retiring on top, plus the vengeance sought by Welker. While the line is a bit much of a title game and New England certainly has the pieces to stay competitive I think of their comeback as an aberration and I think Denver is the better team by more than a touchdown at home.
Denver Broncos -6.5 New England Patriots