This Sunday Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will renew their storied rivalry for the 17th time as the New England Patriots travel to Mile-high stadium to face the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game. Although both teams have had to overcome adversity at some point this season, one of these squads will punch their ticket to San Francisco and Super Bowl 50.
This game may not seem that flashy on paper with Tom Brady dealing with a barrage of injuries and a patchwork offensive line, and Peyton Manning still ailing with a foot injury that sidelined him for almost two months. Despite the circumstances, this match up will be exciting for 3 reasons
- Both QB’s are on the tail end of their careers
Peyton Manning is almost done. This could potentially be his last season depending on wha the doctors say after the season and there may not be another Brady vs Manning game in the future. Just this fact will sit back in each quarterbacks head as they want to out duel each other one last time.
Brady is at the top of his game right now with the core of his offense (Edelman, Gronk, Amendola) all back in tip-top shape after suffering injuries in the regular season. As for Brady it looks as if he will never slow down. The ball is shooting out of his hand, throwing bullets to his receivers and rarely missing his targets.
Manning is still dealing with injuries in his foot and maybe his neck but who knows. Manning, unlike Brady has shown signs of aging recently. He’s throwing ducks to his receivers with terribly bad velocity and accuracy. Even with his age, Manning still finds ways to win the game for his team. It also helps that Denver has a top 3 defense that can hold opponents to under 18 points per game.
2. Its the playoffs
This rivalry always seem to heat up in the playoffs. In the four games they have played, Brady has won two, and so has Manning. The atmosphere is electric wherever the game is, because the fans know they are about to watch the best two quarterbacks possibly in NFL battle it out.
In four playoff meeting Manning holds the edge in regards to stats posting a 102.8 passer rating with 1224 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 6 INT.
Brady posts a passer rating of 85.1 with 890 yards, 4 TD’s and 2 INT’s.
This next game will prove that stats and numbers don’t matter. This game will probably be a battle of two good defenses and whichever team can muscle and scrape out more points will emerge AFC Champion.
3. The supporting casts
Both teams have built super bowl contending rosters, and this game features great talent on both sides of the ball for both teams.
The Patriots are finally healthy again after placing 18 players on I.R throughout the season and dealing with continuous injuries to key players. The receiving corps of Brandon LaFell, Edelman, Amendola, Gronkowski, and emerging player Keyshawn Martin will be the X-Factor going up against the stout Broncos secondary that features Aquib Talib, Chris Harris Jr, Bradley Roby and T.J Ward. The Pats receivers have been prone to drops throughout the season and their first playoff game against the Chiefs. If the receivers consistently give Brady good routs and targets, the Patriots could roll.
Two years ago the Broncos were known for their juggernaut offense that resulted in 55 TD’s for Peyton Manning and multiple broken records including most points scored in the regular season with 603 (37.7 PPG). Now with the offense struggling with Peyton Manning at the helm, superstar receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are forced to rely on the defense to get consistent stops. The X-Factor for this Denver team will be the front 7. Will the pass rush be able to consistently keep Brady uncomfortable? Guys like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware will need to break through a Patriots offensive line that has been playing well as of late but still does not have much playoff experience.
This game is a must watch no doubt. This could be the last time these two great warriors go toe to toe on the grid iron and any diehard football fan would not miss it.