Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Denver Broncos Community!

Denver Broncos Keys to Victory: AFC Championship Game

Ken Pomponio Avatar
January 23, 2016


Keys-to-Victory-Who: Denver Broncos (13-4) vs. New England Patriots (13-4)

What: AFC Championship Game

When: 1 p.m. MST, Sunday, Jan. 17

Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High


Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

Radio: KOA (850 AM), The Fox (103.5 FM)

Odds: Patriots – 3; O/U 44.5

Notable: The Broncos own a 29-21 all-time series advantage, including a 3-1 mark in the playoffs. The Orange & Blue have won all three playoff home games and lost their only post-season contest in Foxborough. … Denver is making its 10th AFC Championship Game appearance, winning seven of the previous nine and losing only to the Bills (10-7) in 1991 and the visiting Steelers (34-17) in 2005. … The Patriots are playing in their 12th post-merger AFC title game and have gone 8-3 in the previous 11 contests. It’s New England’s fifth straight appearance in the conference-championship round and 10th in the last 15 seasons. … Denver is 16-5 in 21 home playoff games while New England is 6-9 on the road, including 0-3 in the Mile High City and 3-3 in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Era. … Peyton Manning is 8-15 all-time against the Patriots, including 2-2 in the postseason and 1-3 with the Broncos, while Brady is 6-8 vs. the Broncos, including 2-6 in Denver and 1-2 in the postseason. … Losing to a team during the season – as the Patriots did against the Broncos (30-24 in OT) in Week 12 – doesn’t always translate into playoff revenge for the Belichick Patriots who are 3-5 in the postseason against teams which beat them during the regular season.

The Keys

  • D.T. must be D.T.: Last we checked, Demaryius Thomas is still the Broncos’ top offensive weapon, and the team is going to need something significantly better than his drop-filled one catch-in-13-target, 36-yards outing against the Patriots in the regular season. In his previous six games against New England, Thomas was a pain for the Patriots, catching 40-of-64 targets for 691 yards and two TDs, and D.T. must resemble more of the latter – and not the former – on Sunday afternoon.
  • Win the line of scrimmage: This goes on both sides of the ball for the Broncos. When the Patriots have possession, Denver must get penetration up the middle against a suspect New England offensive front – Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson are vital here – in combination with a strong edge rush from the usual suspects in Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, etc. Meanwhile, disputing the free releases and quick, two-second throws to Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski will help here immensely. If this is truly a championship Denver defense, it’s time to prove it against the defending champions in your house. When the Broncos have the ball, the Patriots are sure to load up against the run after Denver gashed the visitors for 179 yards and a trio of TDs on 32 carries on Nov. 29, but Denver must be persistent even if the early-game results aren’t particularly promising. Two stats: The Broncos are 7-0 when rushing 30-or-more times this season while the Patriots are 14-2 when holding the opposition to fewer than 100 rushing yards in the playoffs during Belichick’s tenure and 8-6 when they don’t.
  • Win the turnover tussle: We can include this every week – and most weeks we have – but it’s no more important than when you’re facing the Patriots. Again, two numbers: New England is 15-0 in the postseason under Belichick when finishing with a turnover advantage and 7-8 when it doesn’t. Say no more.
  • Coaching can’t be a major disadvantage: No one is expecting Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips to outwit, outscheme or completely surprise Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on Sunday, but the Broncos can’t venture too far off the map that’s led them to this juncture, either. In last weekend’s divisional-round win over the Steelers, the Denver staff came close to doing just that, playing too much unfamiliar zone coverage against the Antonio Brown-less Steelers, who took advantage for too many big plays. The Denver coaches also are going to have adjust on the fly when the Patriots reveal their unexpected and almost-obligatory game-plan wrinkle and not let it develop into a deciding factor. In short, the keys we’ve covered here are straightforward and rather simple; executing them successfully against the playoff-seasoned Patriots is where it often times proves too tough for the opposition to handle.


Presented by chipsroofingllc.com


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?