AFC Championship Preview: Brady Vs. Manning XVII

We just passed the one year anniversary of the NFL trying to railroad the Patriots immediately following the AFC Championship game. This just woke up The Boogie Man, and really pissed him off. Not only did the Patriots send Russell Wilson and the Seahawks to a swift but painful death last February in Phoenix, but they started the year murdering everyone in their path soon after, including the NFL in court. It caused the Brady and the rest of the Patriots organization to begin their ‘Scorched Earth Tour’ against the rest of the NFL and the Dark Lord, Roger Goodell. Through multiple season ending injuries on both sides of the ball, we’re back in the AFC Championship game. They should rename this game to the Patriots versus “Some Grab Ass Team” in the AFC. It has come to that right? Is it only fitting we get to hammer the final nail in the Peyton Manning coffin? Perhaps. I am not a Manning hater, and really never have been. Sure he throws more guys under the bus than most executives. Yes, he had HGH injected probably directly into his forehead. Yes, his playoff record is subpar and he has been emasculated by Belichick and Brady throughout his career. But I respect the way the guy plays the game and he had a hell of a run. He looks old. He reminds me of the guy rocking tube socks and New Balance sneakers in the gym with shorts that go right to mid-thigh or so. He also wears shirts in the pool and that is a known fact. Google it if you don’t believe me. So here we are at Brady vs. Manning XVII. I’ve watched every match up and there have been some heartaches, but more often than not, it ends with a Manning Face and TB12 going into “Psycho Tom” mode. There are two roads which lead to destiny in this one. Number one is Manning making it to the Super Bowl, just like Elway, and winning it all and retiring. The other, and more probable, is Evil Goodell handing Brady the Lombardi Trophy in Santa Clara in just over two weeks.

How Denver Wins: Denver needs to keep Brady off the field and control the clock. CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman gashed the Patriots run defense late in the game during the week ten match up. However, Donta Hightower left that game with a knee injury and the defense suffered massively. Guys like Thomas, Sanders, and Norwood need to catch the ball and create separation from man coverage. They were able to do that effectively in week ten, especially Sanders who torched the Patriots for close to a buck fifty in receiving. Belichick likes to take what teams do best away, so that will most likely be the running game. He is going to dare Manning to throw the ball deep and outside the numbers. Now Manning’s arm resembles Johnny Damon’s thus far and would most likely be picked off by members of the New England Liberty expansion LFL franchise, but can he dig into the fountain of youth (a.k.a. Mrs. Manning’s weekly HGH deliveries) and start firing darts all over the field? I am in the minority here when I think Manning can muster up enough plays to actually win this game with his arm. The defense also has to play press coverage and not give guys like Edelman and Gronk a free release off the line. This sets up those crossing routes that have murdered teams for years. Can the linebackers line up and cover guys like James White coming out of the backfield? Is Chris Harris’ shoulder being held together by spit and duct tape? In plain English, Denver has to do a lot more than New England does, and hope for a few breaks to win this game. It is a very probable scenario as well.

How New England Wins: The formula here is very simple. They need to stop the run and force Manning into bad throws. His noodle arm isn’t what it used to be, but his decision making this year has been subpar, regardless of the injuries he may or may not have had. You also can’t give Mr. Biceps Ed Hochuli the chance to throw some phantom flag late in the game. We had some brutal PI and holding calls late in the game which killed drives and extended them for Denver in week ten. You’re a fool if you don’t think the NFL and Evil Goodell wants to see Denver and Manning back in the Super Bowl. So the Patriots have to play disciplined football and move the chains on third down. Their third down conversion percentage in the first meeting resembled the drunk guy at the bar hitting on every girl. They just couldn’t’ close. Guys like Edelman and Gronkowski are both going to play huge factors in this game, but I’m a big James White guy this week. I think McDaniels will put him into situations where he can exploit some of the big mouth Denver linebackers in space. Maybe we see JoJo LaFell come back from the dead? He has been off in some alternate universe for a majority of the year. The Patriots just need to play mistake free football and keep the game out of the hands of the referees. Stuff the run, stack the box, and keep the chains moving. Now that may sound like the title to some cheesy porno, but in reality, it is the recipe for victory in Denver.

Who Wins and Why: I picked Denver to win it all in my preseason predictions not knowing how bad Manning would be or how good Brady and the Patriots would be. However, reality kicked in and we saw where the roads have lead both quarterbacks. Brady is playing at an all-time high and Manning was the worst rated quarterback in football. Denver’s defense is far better than New England’s, especially on the back end. Guys like Logan Ryan and Hicks need a repeat performance of what they did in week ten. Edelman and Amendola were both missing in action for the first meeting between these two teams, but so was DeMarcus Ware for Denver. I think the game is a lot closer than most people think, but the Patriots pull it out by four points. I like the Patriots 27-23 in a tight one.

Side Notes: Tom Brady recently opened up his TB12 store for consumers. Not only can you buy the supplements that Tom Brady takes that turns him into the superhuman he is, but you can also purchase all of his TB12 apparel. He just became the richest man in history and many New England citizens just stepped up their style game. But let’s be honest, if Tom Brady told me gasoline was healthy for me, I’d say premium or unleaded with no questions asked. He wants me to wear my clothes inside out, call me Punky Brewster and like it. I’m going to jump into Rob Gronkowski’s Time Machine and see you all on Sunday.

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