The New England Patriots will travel for this year’s AFC Championship Game to play the Denver Broncos on Sunday for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
The Broncos’ defense has been great all season while their offense has been less than stellar, but good enough to win and advance to the AFC Championship Game.
You can never count out the Broncos or Peyton Manning no matter how they have looked all season or last week, and every game and week is a different story.
So, with that in mind, here’s how the Patriots can win their back-to-back AFC Titles.
1. Protect Tom Brady:
As usual, protecting Tom Brady tops the list of things the Patriots must do to win the game. They did a really good job of that last Saturday which saw the offense find its groove for the first time in 2 months. It did help that Edelman return and along with him the quick passing game, but the offensive line had a strong night and they’ll need that Sunday. The Broncos love to blitz, they love to have sack parties in the backfield, so the Patriots must keep them away if Brady is to have himself a day.
2. Stop The Run:
The Patriots must stop the Broncos running offense if they are to win. They have to take away Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson, especially Anderson, this Sunday. Anderson has been the guy to kill the Patriots on the ground, so they have to give him no lanes to run through. The Broncos want to run, they need to run, so the Patriots must force them to be a passing only team because if the Broncos can run it gives them a chance in this game which means the Patriots must put an end to it right off the bat.
3. Pressure the QB:
Getting pressure on Peyton Manning has to be atop the list of things the defense must do Sunday. Peyton Manning, unlike Alex Smith, is a pocket passer only and poses no threat to run the football, which means the Patriots can bring the heat. The Patriots will send blitzes this week on passing downs and try to knock Manning off his feet because he doesn’t do all that well like most Quarterbacks when they are getting hit. I’m sure we will see more blitzes this week, but they will try to do it with four down linemen as well. At the end of the day, the Patriots will go after Manning on third downs and all game and if they can, they’ll keep Denver from scoring.