By Hal Bent
The New England Patriots face the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game this afternoon with a trip to the Super Bowl for the winner. Travelling to the high altitude of Denver, CO is never an easy trip for any defense, particularly with future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and his record-setting offense waiting. In addition, the Patriots’ hard-charging running game will meet the statistical top ten rushing defense of the Broncos.
One issue with comparing the two teams involved in the AFC Championship Game is that the teams have evolved significantly since their previous matchup in Week 12 of the NFL season. New England is without tight end Rob Gronkowski which has significantly changed their offense. For Denver, the loss of linebacker Von Miller has had a negative effect on their defense.
In addition to the injury to two of the most important players on their respective teams, both squads are dealing with recent injuries. Denver lost cornerback Chris Harris to a torn ACL, while New England lost top run-stuffing linebacker Brandon Spikes to a knee injury (or punishment for being late to the facility one time too many). With so much having been written about the quarterbacks for each team and their respective legacies and matchups in past seasons, it is finally time to focus on the other players on the field and what could happen when they finally meet on the field of play.
When Denver has the ball
Much has been made about the Denver offense and its record-setting ways in 2013. Just like the New England Patriots offense in 2007, the Broncos did a lot of damage early in the season in ideal weather conditions against inferior competition. Also like that Patriots team in 2007, the offense looked only a step above average in the playoffs. For all the records and gaudy performances against bad defenses (Tennessee, Dallas, Jacksonville, Oakland, and the New York Giants), the Broncos offense has been slowly regressing...CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE: http://cover32.com/patriots/2014/01/19/preview-afc-championship-will-come-down-to-matchups/