What do Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, Kyle Orton, Brock Osweiler, and Peyton Manning have in common?
All five of these quarterbacks have beaten Tom Brady and the Patriots in Denver. Brady is 2-6 against the Broncos in his career at Mile High, and 0-2 in the playoffs.
That will all change in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. The reason that will change is that Brady will have all his weapons at his disposal. And that will prove to be the difference.
When the Patriots lost to the Broncos seven weeks ago, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman were both out with injuries. Two years ago when the Patriots lost to the Broncos in the AFC Championship game in Denver, TB12’s wide receivers and tight ends were Julian Edelman, Austin Collie, Aaron Dobson, Michael Hoomanawanui, and the immortal Matthew Mulligan.
On Sunday, Brady will have Edelman, Amendola, LaFell, and Gronk at his disposal. A huge difference.
The strength of the Broncos is their defense. They can get after the quarterback — leading the league with 52 sacks while giving up just 18.5 points a game. But as Brady showed last week against the Chiefs, with his full arsenal he can get the ball out of his hand quickly to nullify the pass rush.
Peyton Manning — at his age and diminished physical skills — cannot score enough to keep up with the Patriots. Last week against the Steelers, Manning was just 1-of-5 on passes that traveled 20 yards or more in the air.
Bill Belichick is great at taking away something the offense wants to do. Look for the Patriots to stack their front against the run and take away the short passes. This will force Manning to try to beat them down the field. That’s not going to happen and could lead Manning to throw interceptions which will break the game open for the Patriots.
The Patriots go into this game as three point favorites. They should easily cover the spread and head to Santa Clara for Super Bowl 50.