Oct 7, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) shakes hands with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) following the game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to the BEST SUNDAY of the NFL season, even if your team isn’t playing. The Super Bowl is the equivalent of New Year’s Eve and St. Paddy’s rolled into one – it’s amateur hour. Championship weekend is for the real hard core fans. It’s very rare that you can say, with some certainty, that the top four teams are left standing to face off in their respective conference championship matchups, so savor each and every moment of these games; there are very few opportunities to watch meaningful football this season. On to the matchups…
New England Patriots (12-4) at Denver Broncos (13-3)
2:00 PM CST, CBS
Line: Broncos -4, O/U 57
It’s Manning vs Brady, part XV. If you’d like to review their last 14 matchups, check out this video history. Peyton’s struggles against the Patriots are well documented. His struggles in the postseason or in the elements are also well known. But this has been a special season for Manning. He is loaded with talent at wide receiver and tight end. The Broncos can straight up score some points.
For the Patriots, it’s quite the opposite for Tom Brady. He and head coach Bill Belichick have had to adapt more than any other year. Injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, departures by other receivers (most notably Wes Welker, who bolted to the Broncos) and Aaron Hernandez rotting in a jail cell really hampered the Patriots offense. Brady never seemed comfortable with his young and inexperienced receivers. But in typical Brady-Belichick manner, they’ve found a way. Last week, they rode LaGarrette Blount and his 4 TD’s into the AFCCG. Pretty amazing.
Prediction: Manning’s days in the league could be numbered. He puts himself in a position to go out in style by leading his team past the Patriots.
Broncos 31 – Patriots 24