After what was a relatively easy 27-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots are off to Denver for their fifth straight appearance in the AFC Championship game with Tom Brady at the helm. Despite the fact that Brady (28/42, 302 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs aginst KC) is only 2-6 in his career playing in the Mile High City, I expect that they will come away with the win, punching their ticket for yet another trip to the Super Bowl, and in the process, possibly sending Peyton Manning off to retirement. But before I touch upon how I think they are going to accomplish that, let’s take a quick look back at last Saturday’s effort.
TIME ON THEIR HANDS:
I had initially thought that I might utilize the tried and true, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” approach to reviewing the Pats vs Chiefs contest, as there was enough of all three elements to go around. There definitely were times, particularly on the Pats opening drive, when they looked like their ol’ 10-0 selves. The drive, which was capped by the first of Gronk’s two touchdowns, was sparked by the return of receiver Julian Edelman (10 catches for 100 yards). Once he got his timing back and stopped fighting the ball, Edelman helped the offense look like the steamroller it was earlier this season, and made it quite clear who was in charge. One of the other “good” moments was provided by the no longer synthetically high Chandler Jones, who forced the fumble that led to another Patriots TD, and a 21-6 lead.
At times though, they managed to show their bad side, namely on some of their special teams coverage, as well as their failure to eat up the clock in the middle of the fourth quarter when doing so would have closed things out. Fortunately for the Pats, Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid‘s clock management skills were down right ugly and really cost them any chance at a late game comeback.
PATRIOTS 31 – DENVER 22:
I thought for a while that I preferred the match up with the Pittsburgh Steelers over the one with the Broncos. After all, a home game with a weakened Ben Roethlisberger and no Antonio Brown would have definitely slanted things in the Pats favor. But Roethlisberger was not as injured as I was led to believe, and it’s very possible that Brown may have been back from his concussion issues, all in all making them a very difficult opponent. Which is not to imply that Denver is a walk in the park, or a mere hike in the mountains. Defensively they are near or at the top of just about every category, with names like Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware, or Von Miller, leading the way.
But the Pats almost beat them last time they played, and the New England was without receivers Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and for the OT, Rob Gronkowski. Granted, it wasn’t Peyton manning the quarterback position, but rather Brock Osweiler in his place (puns intended). However, that could turn out to be a net positive for the Pats, if they can stop C.J. Anderson, who ran for 113 yards against in November. I’m not selling 6’5” Manning short. He’s still a tough and smart player, but he’s not the offensive concern he used to be, and that’s why I’m counting on the Pats having the edge. Combine that with the fact that Bill Belichick is head and shoulders above just about every other head coach in the NFL, and you can understand why I expect them to get by Denver, and make yet another trip to the Super Bowl.
We’ll see soon enough if I’m right. Stay tuned…
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- The “Shaken, Not Stirred” Edition - January 17, 2017
- The “Malcolms in the Middle” Edition - January 11, 2017
- A “Catching Up, Following Up, and Weighing In” Edition - December 31, 2016
- The “Cannon and Flowers” Edition - December 21, 2016
- The “Farm, for Sale” Edition - December 10, 2016
- The “Tebucky Jones Tribute” Edition - November 13, 2016
- The “World, Serious” Edition - November 1, 2016
- The “Easy Come, Easy Go” Edition - October 18, 2016