Friday, January 17, 2014

Cover32: Under-the-radar players who could decide Pats-Broncos game


The New England Patriots play the cream of the crop of the AFC, the Denver Broncos, at mile-high altitude on Sunday afternoon. The Broncos were sluggish in their first game back from the bye week, and it showed as their offense failed to maintain consistency against a gritty Chargers defense. However, the big Denver defensive line stepped up, stuffing the Chargers’ game plan to ground and pound and even adding some timely pressure and drive-ending sacks.
This week, with the knowledge gained from their dramatic Week 12 come-from-behind victory over the Broncos, the Patriots match up with them following their strong win against the AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts. The Colts were unable to replicate their dramatic come-from-behind victory in the Wild Card round over the Kansas City Chiefs last week. New England’s power running game punished the Colts defense and left them with no chance to catch up in the closing minutes.
The storyline that has been played out ad nauseum this week has been the matchup of quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Add in the rehashed wide receiverWes Welker offseason move and the endless rehashed stories that come out of that and the average Patriots fan is hungering for some knowledge beyond the stars of the game. As we did last week in preparation for the Colts game, we present four under-the-radar players (two from each team) who could have a huge impact on their team’s chances for victory on Sunday afternoon.
New England center Ryan Wendell
The New England Patriots have had success in the passing game and running the ball after a tough start to the season. At the beginning of the season, the team struggled to move the ball on offense, as the running backs struggled to find space and quarterback Tom Brady struggled under a pocket-collapsing pass rush.
A big part of that problem was the interior of the offensive here for more:

H4TV: The AFC Championship Game Between New England Patriots & Denver Broncos Looks to Be an Instant Classic

by Hal Bent | Posted on Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
The AFC Championship Game is ready to go: the New England Patriots are set to travel to Colorado and face the Denver Broncos in the match-up of the top two teams in the AFC.  Once again it is an epic battle between two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in the postseason. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning faces future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick’s defense while New England quarterback Tom Brady faces the underrated defensive acumen of Denver head coach John Fox.  While New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio handle the nuts and bolts of their defenses, both head coaches will have their fingerprints on the defensive game plans.
For New England, the offense has leaned upon their running game the last few weeks to great success. In week 16 against Baltimore, week 17 against Buffalo, and on Saturday night against the Indianapolis Colts the Patriots offense channeled their inner Olivia Newton-John and “got physical.”  With playoff losses in four straight season directly attributable to the finesse offense getting bullied by Baltimore (twice), the Rex Ryan New York Jets, and the Giants in the Super Bowl, this New England Patriots team is different than the high-scoring offenses of years past. The Patriots had to adapt to significant injuries and rebrand themselves as a “ground and pound” offense.
Unlike most teams with this offensive philosophy, the Patriots have a quarterback who can take over the game at anytime and put up big numbers and get yards in bunches.  Against Denver on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game the Patriots will have to do more than just run the ball again and again into Denver’s strong run defense.
Last week against San Diego, the Denver run defense shut-down the Chargers plan to control the clock and keep the high-powered Broncos offense on the sideline. By halftime the Chargers had to give up their ball-control plan as their running game put up only 44 yards on 12 rushes. With the San Diego offense consistently facing second and third and long yardage due to the Denver run defense buckling down, the Broncos were able to put the Chargers in obvious passing downs and tee off on quarterback Philip Rivers.
For the Patriots on offense, they will need to mix up their play calls and be prepared to attack the Broncos secondary. While cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been Denver’s best option in pass coverage, fellow cornerback Chris Harris has not been far behind. Unfortunately, Harris was lost during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game with a knee injury that will require surgery and end his season. Not coincidently, not long after Harris left the game the Chargers passing game came to life.
Without Harris, Denver was forced to lean upon veterans Champ Bailey and Quentin Jammer and, as expected, the long-in-tooth veterans struggled.  For New England quarterback Tom Brady, finding the match-ups with these two cornerbacks–particularly with shifty slot receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman–and attacking them at every opportunity. Last week San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers completed all three passes on Bailey and three of five for some big plays against Jammer by receivers Eddie Royal and Keenan here for more:

MusketFire: AFC Championship Preview: New England Patriots Offense vs Denver Broncos Defense

BY  - 
The New England Patriots are going to the AFC Championship Game.  After defeating Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night the Patriots will be facing off against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. After a dramatic week twelve comeback victory against Denver, this time the Patriots are in Denver as they battle for the right to represent the AFC against either San Francisco or Seattle in the Super Bowl.

The Patriots and Broncos match-up will garner attention on the marquee quarterbacks involved: veterans Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. However, the two never set foot on the field at any time the clock is running and the game is really a chess match between the quarterback reacting to the look given by the defensive coordinator.  This game is a battle of wills and wiles between Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and New England Tom Brady and Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

There are a number of intriguing plot-lines for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. A big question revolves around how the Patriots offense will attack the Broncos defense.  In week twelve the Broncos defense made a number of big plays in the first half to stymie the Patriots offense. The Broncos defense forced and recovered three fumbles on the first three Patriots drives of the game to leap out to a 17-0 lead and eventually expand to 24-0. This would force New England out of their game plan and into a spread passing offense on nearly every down.

On Sunday the conventional wisdom is that Tom Brady and the New England offense will continue its smash-mouth power running offense that they have displayed in the last three games.  However, as San Diego found out last week, running the ball into the mouth of the Denver defense is an invitation to fall behind and struggle to play catch-up to the most potent offense in NFL history....Click here for more:

MusketFire: AFC Championship Preview: New England Patriots Defense vs Denver Broncos Offense

BY  - 
The New England Patriots will play the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon in the AFC Championship Game.  Coming off their defeat of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night the Patriots will be facing off against the number one seed in the AFC in Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. After a dramatic week twelve comeback victory against Denver at home in frigid, windy Foxboro, MA, this time New England is in the Mile High city as they battle the Broncos for the right to represent the AFC against either NFC representative in the Super Bowl.

In the week twelve match-up against Denver Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia presented Denver quarterback Peyton Manning with an irresistible temptation: a two deep shell with extra defensive backs for every snap (all 90) on defense. The Patriots were in a 17-0 halftime hole (soon to be 24-0) due to Denver outside linebacker Von Miller inserting his influence all over the field.  Fortunately for the Patriots offense, Von Miller will not be on the field Sunday.

On the field will be quarterback Peyton Manning for Denver. In addition to his lightning-quick decision-making his much improved arm strength has allowed him to put up unparalleled statistics in 2013. With Manning, a defense does not so much as stop him as much as it simply slows him down.

While New England escaped with a victory in week twelve against Denver, the Broncos offense will again be the biggest test of the revamped, reworked, and renewed Patriots defense.  Previously the match-up of the Patriots offense and Broncos defense was detailed HERE at, this piece will focus on the match-up between the Patriots defense and the Broncos high-powered, record-setting offense....Click here for more: New England Patriots’ Top 2019 NFL Draft Picks Show Evolution on Both Sides of the Ball

The New England Patriots may have tipped their hand with their first two 2019 NFL Draft picks. Choosing a bigger, more aggressive outside-...