AFC Championship game New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos

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This game sees the Playoff leading running back take on the regular season’s record breaking Quarterback.  Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount is the highest scorer in the Playoffs with 24 points, 2 more than his nearest rival San Francisco 49ers place kicker Phil Dawson.  Blount’s 4 rushing touchdowns against a particularly shaky Colts rush defence emphasized just how Patriots Head Coach Bill Bellichick will identify his opponent’s weaknesses and exploit them.  Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning threw 55 touchdown passes during the regular season breaking the previous record of 50 set in 2008 by his opponent this weekend Tom Brady.  Manning also broke the record for most pass yardage in 1 season that was previously held by Drew Brees, Manning’s 5,477 yards surpassed the 2011 mark by just 1 yard.

So it’s fair to say that both teams have highly potent offences at their disposal, they were the best 2 AFC teams in terms of points per game during the regular season and neither side will have any worries if the game turns into a shootout.  However on the other side of the ball it’s been a very different story with both defences struggling on one facet of play, the Patriots run defence was ranked 30th in the league at the end of the regular season after allowing an average of 134.1 yards per game, they did only concede 11 rushing touchdowns in their 16 games though and they did force 6 fumbles and recover 3 of them.  The Patriots defence did make 17 interceptions during the regular season to add to the 4 they gathered in last week, throwing the ball against them is a dangerous task, even for an experienced play maker like Manning.  The Broncos defence on the other hand struggled in the pass game during the regular season and were ranked the 27th best team in the league after allowing an average of 254.4 yards per game, last week they allowed 184 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air in the 4th quarter alone.  The Broncos defence has been difficult to run against this season and their 101.6 average yards allowed during the regular season saw them ranked 6th in the NFL.  The Broncos also made 17 interceptions during the regular season, but their 16 lost fumbles during the season left them with a turnover ratio of 0.

This game will almost certainly be decided by the coaching staff on the sideline and after Peyton Manning extolled the virtues of the Patriots Head Coach Bill Bellichick the latter will surely want to make sure the former is proved correct in Denver.  The Patriots had around 25 undrafted free agent signings in their squad of 52 last week and even with 11 players on Injured Reserve including Vince Wilfork and Rob Gronkowski the Patriots have more ways to win a game than the Broncos have ways to stop them.

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