Another Peyton Manning v. Tom Brady AFC Championship Game?
- Updated: January 11, 2013
The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs in the AFC will pit the #4 seed Baltimore Ravens against the #1 seed Denver Broncos and the #3 seed Houston Texans against the #2 seed New England Patriots. Are we on target for another Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady AFC Championship Game?
If the Broncos and Patriots meet for the AFC Championship game it would be the 3rd time Manning and Brady have played against one another in the AFC title matchup. Obviously, the series is currently tied at 1-1. These quarterbacks are superstars in the NFL, but they have very different playoff track records. Brady being one of the winningest playoff QBs and Manning being 2nd to Brett Favre for most playoffs losses. Regardless, it’s always an epic battle when the two signal callers face off.
While it could be familiar faces at the QB position, the setting and cast will be different. Manning finds himself on a Denver Broncos team that is very different from his Colts teams of the past. Colts teams of old have been built to surround the QB with weapons, but that often meant the defense was weak and the Colts haven’t had a run game to speak of in years. This Denver team is something different for Manning. He finds himself on a team with a top tier defense, an above average run game, and weapons in the receiving game unlike he’s had in the past. Throwing to a huge physical receiver like Demaryius Thomas is something Manning had never had the opportunity to experience in Indianapolis. The offense took some time to come together, but now the Broncos are hot and they are on the inside track. The location will be different as well because Denver holds the #1 seed. If these teams meet, it will be a new setting for the Manning-Brady playoff rivalry as the AFC Championship Game would be played at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The Broncos are hot and are currently on an 11 game winning streak. Manning and company have put together the 4th ranked scoring offense in the league this season, averaging 30.1 points per game and 397.9 yards per game. They are strong on the other side of the ball as well as the Denver defense has surrendered the 3rd fewest passing and rushing yards per game in 2012.
Combine that with having two defensive players in the top 10 on the 2012 sack list in Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, and this defense is a force to be reckoned with. Manning definitely has the tools this time around.
The Patriots are having another stellar year. After their Super Bowl XLVI loss to the Giants they were coming into the 2012 season with a number of questions. The team was slightly younger and that was a concern. There were uncertainties in the defense. New faces had been added on offense. At the end of the day Bill Belichick is an amazing coach who has been able to squeeze success out of just about any group as long as he has Tom Brady under center.
New England has scorched the league as the top scoring offense in 2012 with 34.8 points per game and 427.9 yards per game.
The defense is the weak point of the team and has been allowing a good deal of yards per game, but it has been improving as the season as progressed. Also, those numbers are skewed because yards are often piled on during garbage time while opposing teams have been struggling to come back from huge point deficits. The Pats have been winning and winning big. Granted, they have played a number of weak opponents in the AFC East, but there’s no question this team is once again the real deal. This team has the potential to make a repeat trip to the Super Bowl, but they are going to have to keep the pedal down offensively.
The pieces are in place for another clash of signal calling titans. Could this be another epic Manning versus Brady rumble? Who will come out on top?
Note: The Broncos and Patriots met in Week 5 in which the Pats won 31-21.
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...