New England Patriots (13-4 SU, 9-8 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (14-3 SU, 10-6-1) ATS)
AFC Championship Game
Date and Time: Sunday January 19th, 2014. 3:00PM Eastern
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High Denver, C.O.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE +4.5/DEN -4.5
Over/Under Total: 54.5
One of the most anticipated AFC Championship Games in NFL history will take place this Sunday when the New England Patriots meet the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. The storyline is rather simple but not to be undermined. Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are undoubtedly the best quarterbacks of this generation and quite possibly the best of all-time. This Sunday’s match-up could be the final playoff meeting between both elite quarterbacks and it will take place on one of the biggest stages with a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII up for grabs.
In week 12, Brady rallied the Patriots from a 24-0 halftime deficit to comeback and steal a 34-31 victory in overtime. The game was one of the best of the entire NFL regular season and went down as another chapter in the Manning vs. Brady legacy. Brady leads that all-time series convincingly at 10-4 SU with a 2-1 SU playoff advantage. Nevertheless the stage has been set for another epic showdown between two of the best to play the game and the stakes are as high as ever. Obviously this game will be more about the Broncos and the Patriots rather than what some are claiming as Brady-Manning Bowl XV. Still if week 12 was any indicator of what to expect this Sunday, this should be another thrilling football game.
The Broncos overcame a late surge by the Chargers last week to hold onto a 24-17 victory to advance to this week’s AFC Championship Game. Manning was solid in windy conditions completing 25 of 36 passing for 230 yards with 2 touchdowns and just 1 pick. Of course Peyton Manning playing great has been a theme in the NFL this year. Manning set NFL season records with 55 touchdowns and 5,477 passing yards to help lead the Broncos to the single season best scoring mark in NFL history with 606 total team points. While Manning gets most of the credit and rightfully so, he is surrounded by a tremendous cast. Wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker posted staggering numbers this season by combining for more than 2,700 receiving yards with 25 touchdowns. Not to mention both tight end Julius Thomas and wide out Wes Welker posted more than 700 receiving yards each along with 26 additional touchdowns despite both players missing some playing time with injuries.
Denver’s offense and the help of their home field advantage this weekend is the reason the Broncos opened as 4.5 point favorites at most online betting shops despite their loss to New England earlier this year. The Broncos will undoubtedly put pressure on New England’s defense and find ways to score. The biggest question is can the Denver defense hold off Tom Brady and the Patriots offense? In week 12, Brady destroyed the Broncos defense for 270 passing yards and 3 touchdowns in the 2nd half alone in the Patriots come from behind victory. Brady and the Patriots seem to be hitting their playoff form which has been rather common this time of year under head coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots posted a dominating performance last week in their 43-22 thrashing over Indianapolis. Not only was Brady sharp by hooking up often with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, but the Patriots received an even bigger offensive boost from running back LeGarrette Blount. Blount rushed for 166 yards and a New England playoff record 4 touchdowns in their blowout victory over the Colts. The emergence of Blount in the running game should give Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio even more to worry about this week in prepping the Denver defense. Despite the enormous offensive numbers this season for Denver, the defense has been a struggle for most of the season giving up 24.9 points per game (22nd in the NFL). As much as Manning has resembled ‘Superman’ this season, the Denver defense has been the team’s Kryptonite. If Manning and the Broncos are going to keep their dream season alive, they must get a big performance from the defense this Sunday. Otherwise Lex Luthor, aka Tom Brady may steal the glory from Manning yet again in one of the most pivotal matches in both quarterback’s illustrious careers.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: In case you have not been paying attention, I am a perfect 4-0 thus far in the playoffs and I plan to carry that momentum right to the Super Bowl. In my opinion, the side may be too risky to pick in this game as I expect a close game just as the week 12 overtime thriller. A few big plays will be the difference in this game and that does not bode well for a side play. However expect scoring to meet expectations yet again. Both the Broncos and Patriot’s offenses will get the best of their opposing defenses in this game while keeping pressure to score on the opposition. In return, both Manning and Brady will take plenty of offensive strikes down the field and find ways to keep scoring. Take the best bet of the game and take the over 54.5!
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