It’s finally here! The AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos inside of Mile High Stadium begins today.
The weather should be good today for this game starting at 3:00 pm.
The Patriots will bring in their hot running game against the 7th ranked rush defense of the Denver Broncos. It’ll be interesting to see who wins that battle on the line.
On offense the Patriots will look to establish the run game early and use it for the entire game. They will use ball control, keeping Manning on the side, and scoring points with this game plan. They will also use the run to set up play action, a very useful tool for Tom Brady.
The Broncos defense is ranked 28th against slot receivers, and the Patriots have two of them. Brady will go to his slot guys throughout the game today. He will use the short passing game today, moving the chains, and try to pick them apart all the way up the field.
In the redzone the Patriots will have to get creative again. They will run it once their inside their 5 yard line but when they’re a little farther out they will have to be creative.
The Patriots will also try to shore up their protection to slow down the Denver pass rush. As long as Brady is upright the New England offense should be fine.
On defense the Patriots will look to play physical. The best way to stop an offense like this is to be physical. Jam them on the line and rough them up all through their routes. Basically you play like the Ravens did against New England when they were giving the Pats some beat downs. They will have to play man to man for most of the day and let Talib slow down Thomas and hope Dennard can do the same with Decker. I do worry about Dennard on Decker but if he starts to get beat then New England can get Ryan back on him. Arrington will be on Welker again and if that goes sideways put Ryan on him. The Patriots have room to maneuver in the secondary but the Patriots corners should over match the Broncos receivers.
The Patriots will have Jamie Collins on Julius Thomas with Steven Gregory or Devin McCourty providing safety help. They have to bring their best today to slow down the big, very talented Thomas. If New England can slow him down then they win this game. The one that repeatedly hurt the Chargers and picked up key downs was Thomas so New England has to defend him well. Collins should be able to keep up with Thomas but when the ball is in the air he has to defend it.
The Patriots will also blitz Peyton Manning randomly throughout the game. They can’t get pressure without the blitz, the defensive line simply isn’t good enough but when they bring the blitz they do a better job. They will be bringing exotic blitzes today to confuse Manning and to get to him. They don’t have to sack him but applying enough pressure to hit him or make him throw faster will be the ideal thing for New England.
The Patriots gave up 200 yards rushing last time they faced Denver. They forced the Broncos hand into the running game but they will defend it better this time. The Patriots will do the same thing again and force Denver into the running game but will be better prepared for it. Denver will still pick up a lot on the ground today but it should limit how many points they score.
This game might not be the high scoring affair people think or maybe it will be a barn burner, either way it’s going to be a tough one.