This Sunday at 3:05 the AFC East winner, the New England Patriots (12-4), play the AFC West champs, the Denver Broncos (12-4). Whichever team wins goes to the Super Bowl. The last time the Pats went to the big game was last year when they won the whole thing. New England beat Seattle 28-24. The Broncos last appeared in the Super Bowl in 2013. At that time they lost to the Seahawks 43-8.
This is a game that pits an NFL quarterback who came into the league as the number one draft pick and with a complete pedigree, Peyton Manning, against a signal caller who when he first got to the University of Michigan was seventh on the depth chart and was a sixth round pick by the Pats, Tom Brady. But in terms of Super Bowl hardware, Tom Brady has broken away from Manning, winning four Super Bowls to one for Manning. This game is very much about Brady versus Manning.
Brady and Manning
Who’s got the edge here? You’d have to say Brady. His rating is 102.2 and he’s got 36 TD passes to just seven interceptions. Manning’s rating is 67.9. He’s tossed 17 interceptions and nine touchdowns. Manning has been sacked 16 times. Brady has been brought down behind the line of scrimmage 38 times. But with Manning, you’ve got to be worried about his ability to take the hard hit and get back up.
In terms of ball speed, accuracy, and trajectory, Brady is miles above the Mile High quarterback. Brady has completed 64.4% of his passes, while Manning has connected 59.8% of the time. Of course, for either quarterback to be successful, their offensive line will have to perform well. Which QB will get the better protection? Chances are Manning will. But Brady will need it less, as he’s more elusive and hearty.
The Broncos have a bit of an edge on D. They have notched 52 sacks, 25 forced fumbles, and 13 fumble recoveries. The Pats have 49 sacks, 24 forced fumbles, and nine recoveries. Denver defense has allowed an average of just 18.5 PPG. New England, once again, is close at 19.7 PPG. We think the key for Denver in this game is their D. We also think that the Pats will have an answer to that defense.
This game could come down to a big play or two. Denver kicker Brandon McManus is 10 of 15 (67%) from 40-plus yards. Compare that to Ron Gostkowski who is 16 of 19 (84%) from the same distance. Gostkowski has big play potential. Also for the Pats DE Chandler Jones, who is questionable, has 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles and may be a game changer. Finally, there’s no doubt that TE Rob Gronkowski (1,176 YDs, 11 TDs) can be a big play guy,