Another chapter will be added to the rivalry of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady this Sunday when they face each other in the AFC Championship between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots. Tom Brady is 10-4 all time against Peyton Manning, and already faced each other once this season when the Patriots came back from a 24-0 deficit at halftime to upset the Broncos 34-31 in overtime!
The New England Defense limited Peyton Manning's production, going just 19 of 36 for 150 yards, 2 TD's and 1 INT. Broncos Running Back Knowshon Moreno had a career day by rushing for 224 yards on 37 carries including 1 TD. The Patriots are going to need to contain Moreno and also keep Peyton off the field as long as possible, similar to what the Chargers did when they defeated the Broncos in Week 15. The New England running game will be key, because if they have the same amount of success on the ground against Denver like they did against Indianapolis, the Patriots will put themselves in a great position to defeat the Broncos by controlling the clock and the game.
Manning, (who broke the single season TD Passing record of 50 previously held by Brady (55 and broke the record for most Passing Yards in a season 5,477), and the Broncos offense is the polar opposite's of Brady and New England's. While New England has a more methodical approach on offense, Denver is more fast paced and like to strike quickly and have the weapons to do so! Manning has four receivers who had 10 or more TD Receptions this season (Demaryius Thomas-14, Julius Thomas-12, Eric Decker-11, and former Patriot, Wes Welker-10).
Statistically speaking, this was not one of Tom Brady's better seasons (25 TD's 11 INT's 4,343 Passing Yards) yet it is his leadership ability that has gotten the Patriots to where they are right now! Keep in mind, Brady has been without his favorite target, Tight End Rob Gronkowski (who missed the beginning of the season recovering from back surgery, only to go down again, tearing his ACL and MCL, bringing his season to an end). Wide Receiver Julian Edelman stepped up for the Patriots this season, recording 6 TD Receptions and going for over 1,000 yards!( 1,056), had a huge game against the Broncos in their regular season match up, catching 9 for 110 yards and 2 TD's!
New England will need to continue establishing it's run game with Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount if they want to be successful. Denver's Defensive performance will be crucial. If they can stop the Patriots run game and force New England to punt, it will allow the Broncos to put the ball in Manning's hands quick;y and more often! Which is what you do not want if you are New England!
Image sources: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/more/news/20131117/media-circus-tom-brady-peyton-manning-richie-incognito-jonathan-martin/
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