The battle for the AFC Championship comes down to the no. 1 and no. 2 seed with the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots. With the Broncos having the best defense in the league, all eyes will be on the Patriots to see if they can continue to put up numbers like they did in the regular season. Despite the possibility of a low-scoring, defensive showcase, the point spread is currently favoring New England as -3.5 favorites on the road.
2015/16 NFL Playoffs: Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots
Point Spread: Patriots -3.5 Over/under: 44.5 Date: Sunday, January 24, 3:00pm ET Location: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
New England Patriots
With the offense fairly banged up, the -3.5 favored New England team still managed to drop 27 points to the Kansas City Chiefs formidable defense. Facing a Denver pass rush that excels at getting to the quarterback, the Patriots will employ a game plan that counts on quick passes. If they can find some separation against one of the best secondaries in the league, it’ll be hard to stop New England just marching up and down the field methodically, like they always do.
Normally, a defense fears the deep ball from one of the game’s best quarterbacks, but they face Peyton Manning at a point in his career where they’re daring him to beat them deep. With a formidable secondary, New England will focus on taking away the short to intermediate passing game and forcing Manning into making throws he simply can’t make anymore. If they can find a way to bottle up the short stuff, Denver’s offense will be quite frustrated.
The no. 1 defense in the league is looking to make a statement against the Patriots and aren’t shy about their desire to get after Tom Brady. The biggest factor in stopping New England’s offense comes down to disrupting the timing between Brady and his receivers. If the +3 underdog Broncos can get consistent push up front and pass protect like they have all year, they stand a good chance of advancing to the Super Bowl.
Denver will need to come up with a strategic game plan against the Patriot’s over-achieving defense. With an improved pass rush, Manning will need to make quick decisions with the ball and hope his receivers turn in a better performance after dropping several balls in the Divisional game. Similar to what New England will try to do, expect the Bronco’s offense to dip and dunk down the field.
AFC Championship Prediction
Brady and Manning have met four times in the NFL post season with the meetings being split 2-2. Three of those four match ups have been in the AFC Championship and Manning has won two of those match ups. While this game is more than Brady vs. Manning, it’s hard to ignore two of the all-time greats duking it out for the rights to play for Super Bowl 50. The advantage this time goes to Brady.