Posts about Denver Broncos

2014 NFL season preview: AFC West


One of the most interesting divisions in the NFL. The AFC West has always been intriguing because of whatever the Raiders and Chargers are doing, but with the addition of Peyton Manning and a Chiefs resurgence, this is a division that will not lack headlines. Obviously, things revolve around the Broncos and their quest to return to the Super Bowl. But what about the Chiefs? They’ve been getting LOTS of attention for a specific reason but we’ll get to them eventually. The Chargers always being the dark horse and whatever nonsense the Raiders are up to.

Denver Broncos: After their blowout loss in the Super Bowl, how does Denver respond this season. People are penciling them in for at least 11 or 12 wins but is it going to be that easy? Other teams will be trying to emulate the Seahawks’ game plan from the Super Bowl when they’re up against the Broncos this season. Peyton Manning is a year older and as we know with pro athletes that are in an advanced age, when it’s starts to go, it goes very fast. But Denver did well in their offseason on defense, signing Demarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and TJ Ward. All players should help them immensely, especially with Manning losing Eric Decker and transitioning to Emmanuel Sanders in that same role. The offense won’t break records this season but they’ll do damage. Denver regresses, just a bit, but still wins the division.

Kansas City Chiefs: This is, without a doubt, one of the most talked about teams prior to the start of the season. Why? They have the word “regression” written all over them. Pick your topic: over achievers last season, a really tough schedule, key losses on defense and no additions on offense. Let’s just add the fact that they suffered a really bad playoff defeat to the Colts last season. Also, no one respects Alex Smith as he can’t shed the label of “game manager” unless he has some sort of other-worldly season. Are people doubting this team a little too much? One of my good friends is a Chiefs fan and he said “The Chiefs won’t do as well as last season but they won’t be as bad as everyone thinks they’ll be.” I just look at their schedule and wonder how they’re going to be more than 7 or 8 wins this season.

San Diego Chargers: Could this finally be the Chargers year? They made the playoffs last season by finishing their season on a winning streak and with the help of some other teams losing. But can the momentum continue? Their potent offense carried the way but can Phillip Rivers and his weapons be as effective? Some point to their lack of weapons. I’m in the camp that doesn’t think they’ll need to score that many points to win games this season. They addressed their defensive woes in the offseason through the draft and free agency signings. Their schedule starts off and finishes pretty tough, but it they can take care of business against the easier teams, I can see San Diego doing well and challenging not only for a spot in the playoffs, but also challenging Denver for the division title.

Oakland Raiders: What is this team doing? They’ve added some nice young players to build for the future but with head coach Dennis Allen still there, I can’t see the team doing anything but staying in the same spot. Does Matt Schaub have anything left after leaving Houston in the worst possible way? Will he break his own “pick-6” record with a Raiders helmet on? Can Darren McFadden stay healthy after signing another contract with Oakland? The Raiders acquired Maurice Jones-Drew to help with the ball carries but who knows how much he has left in the tank. Both the head coach and GM seem to be “hot seat” candidates and all signs point to them not being with the franchise next season. At best, I can see this as a .500 team but nowhere near contention for division or the playoffs.

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Seahawks dominate Broncos to win Super Bowl XLVIII

NFL: Super Bowl XLVIII-Denver Broncos vs Seattle Seahawks

Once the first snap of the game resulted in a safety, I thought to myself “Well…now anything is possible” and a bit of impossible did happen. How does Seattle, a team built around their superior defense, prove their worth on the biggest possible stage? I’d say that completely dominating the opponent in a Super Bowl is a good start. Let’s also mention that the Broncos, the team that Seattle overpowered, set records on offense by the season’s end. Denver had Peyton Manning last night, one of the best of all time but for pretty much the entire game, Manning did not live up to what he had done all season long. Seattle’s first Super Bowl title was won by their defense, shutting down the Broncos offense and controlling the pace of the game in a 43-8 rout in favor of the Seahawks. I’m actually still having a hard time trying to figure out exactly what happened last night. My prediction had the Broncos winning a close game but I never doubted that Seattle was good enough to take the title themselves. Of course, I never could have predicted that the Seahawks could go out and put up such a dominant performance. Even though i’m pretty sick of hearing the phrase “defense wins championships” it was very evident that Seattle’s defense was so good and had such a presence, that Denver had no answer.

Let’s not forget that despite taking a back seat in the headlines, Seattle’s offense deserves some credit. Russell Wilson had a very solid game (18-25, 206 yds, 2 TDs) but what was most impressive about his game was his ability to formulate some nice drives once Seattle needed their offense to really put the game away for good. Denver actually did a very good job of defending Marshawn Lynch, something that teams were finding hard to do. But despite the Broncos’ best efforts of defense, Seattle was still able to get key first downs after Denver put the pressure on. Malcolm Smith was a great choice for MVP but it’s shame that there isn’t a way to give the award to the entire defense as a whole. Or what about Percy Harvin? The ultimate x-factor stayed true to his label and had one of the biggest plays of the game, the kick off return to start the second half and essentially clinch the game for the Seahawks. I thought Denver could recover from 22-0, still only three scores, but once the lead was pretty much 30 points, it felt like it was officially over.

At 36-0, the clock was the only thing left to settle but one had to wonder: are the Broncos going to score at all? It doesn’t matter how good anyone thought Seattle’s defense is. No one could have predicted that through almost all of the 3rd quarter, Denver would still have a 0 on the scoreboard. Demaryius Thomas was the only bright spot in Denver’s dreadful night, breaking a Super Bowl record with 13 catches to go along with 118 yards and a TD reception. Thomas now holds that reception record but i’m pretty sure that doesn’t make him feel any better about losing the game in such a disappointing fashion. Peyton Manning is the main target of negative discussion today, many questioning how good Manning really is and where he now ranks in QB history. It’s crazy how one one player, in the span of 24 hours, can go from potential “GOAT” to “perennial choker” just because of one performance. It’s fair and unfair at the same time. Last night’s game will be a big black eye on Manning’s career-long resume but as I’ve stated previously, it should not take away from what he’s already done.

Congratulations to Seattle on their first Super Bowl trophy. Very well deserved.

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What to expect when the Broncos and Seahawks face off in Super Bowl XLVIII


Alas, we’re only about 52 hours away from Super Bowl XLVIII from officially kicking off. It seems like a month since we last saw a real NFL game. No, the Pro Bowl doesn’t count because well, it’s the Pro Bowl. The only thing that’s unfortunate about it being two weeks since the last pro football game, is that Broncos-Seahawks is the final game of the season. Luckily for us, this is the match up that most NFL fans were waiting for. The top two seeds in each conference will bring their contrasting styles of play to the field, a cold field where it will be decided which team is the king of football. But first, we have to set aside all the off the field topics that, in all honesty, won’t matter once the ball is officially kicked off. Let’s forget about Marshawn Lynch’s lack of communication to the media and what Sunday’s game means to Peyton’s legacy. Let’s also forget about how “smart and articulate” Richard Sherman actually is. Let’s also forget about anything and everything that involves some sort of beef between Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan. There’s nothing worse than two retired NFL players, both who spend a lot of time on TV, creating some sort of riff to take the attention away from the actual game itself. I know the Super Bowl is more than “just a football game” but this time around, let’s just focus on what is going to happen on the field.

Most Intriguing Match Up: The obvious choice here is Peyton Manning and his weapons against the Seahawks secondary. It’s pretty plain and simple: the top offense in the league going against the best defense in the league. The four-headed monster (Thomas (2), Welker and Decker) will try and continue their season-long success against the toughest group of pass protectors in the league. Sherman will most likely cover Demarius Thomas the entire game so keep an eye on that for the entire game. How many flags will we see on Seattle? I expect the Seahawks to bring the pressure early, often and at the highest intensity. But despite that very intriguing match up, it’s not the one i’m most interested in. Let’s see how well Seattle’s running game does against the Denver defense. Something sneaky that has not been discussed enough is the fact that Denver has stopped two great running teams (Patriots and Chargers) in their playoff victories this year. Can Marshawn Lynch be effective? How well is Russell Wilson going to be able to use his legs to extend plays and find open receivers? They’re all questions that will be answered in the most interesting match up of the day.

The X Factor: You mean, aside from Percy Harvin? Harvin is probably the x-factor to end all x-factors. He might as well be the host and spokesman for the hit show on Fox. But since he’s too obvious of a choice, we’ll take it to the other team for this one. Little has been said about Knownshon Moreno, the Denver running back, who despite being just as important as any of their receivers, doesn’t get anywhere near the same attention. In case you didn’t know, Sunday’s game will feature some cold weather. No real chance of rain/snow but still, cold and just a bit windy. Guess what that means? More running plays! Moreno will be featured more heavily and because Seattle’s pass defense is especially good in the red zone, watch out for multiple hand-offs when the Broncos are close to the goal line. Manning will be the biggest figure on offense, as usual, but I have a feeling that Moreno will come up with some big plays in key situations. Possibly to run the clock down in the 4th quarter? We might even see #27 on the Broncos break his own world-record for tears shed during a national anthem.

So, who wins?: It’s hard to say. Vegas like the Broncos (-2) but as we know, Vegas is in the business of making money, not predicting the outcome of the game. Initially I thought that Denver would take the win, as they are the better team on paper and are better on offense than any other team ever. Seattle’s defense is excellent BUT the Broncos are better at offense than the Seahawks are at defense. Historically speaking, defense does win championships, we’ve heard it over and over. This trend is true in the Super Bowl and while I don’t know the exact stat, I think the top defense is 9-2 when it comes to the big game. Seattle has all the signs on a championship team: defense, running game, big-play potential. Will that be enough? Yes, Seattle had the best defense in the league but Denver had the best offense of all time. The Broncos broke records left and right, leaving opponents in the dust when trying to figure them out. It has just felt like Manning’s year from start to finish. My immediate gut feeling was that the Broncos would come out on top in a close game and i’m going to stick with my guns. Broncos-24 Seattle-23. Omaha!

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Peyton Manning doesn’t want talk about his “legacy” during Media Day


There’s no doubt that Richard Sherman will get the biggest crowd and the most attention during Super Bowl Media Day. Sherman has been hanging out in a whirlwind of discussion, ranging from his play on the field to his comments away from the field. At least we know this, #25 on the Seahawks is a smart guy and whether he’s playing all of this up for “his brand” or not, he’ll come to play on Sunday. Much like the rest of the Seahawks team, the most important game of their lives starts on Sunday at approximately 6:25 ET. Seattle is trying to win their first Super Bowl and cement their place in NFL history. But it’s very difficult to really cement your place in a league where everyone forgets how good you have been from week to week. Just ask Peyton Manning. He’s coming off the greatest season in history for a QB and today, during Media Day, he’s still being asked what this season and what Sunday’s game means for his legacy. Manning was quick to shrug off the question stating that “I’ve been being asked about my legacy since I was about 25 years old. I’m not sure you can have a legacy when you’re 25 years old. Even 37 — I’d like to have to be, like, 70 to have a legacy. I’m not even 100 percent sure what the word even means.” Sure, it’s only of those robotic-like answers that we’ve to expect from a professional like Peyton Manning but it holds a lot of truth. When you’ve had a career like Manning, can one game really define your legacy? It can but at the same time it can’t. 

We can all agree on this: Peyton Manning is among the greatest QBs that the NFL has ever seen. Where you rank him among the other greats (Montana, Elway, Unitas, Brady etc.) is up to personal preference for the most part. How much do you value postseason success? How much do Super Bowl titles matter? Those have been the biggest criticisms when it comes to discussing Manning’s “legacy” as a quarterback. If Manning leads the Broncos to win Super Bowl 48, how much does his legacy change? Remember, there has never been a starting QB to win a championship with two different teams.  Manning would also be the oldest quarterback to win the Super Bowl since John Elway, the man who recruited him, did so himself. Two rings are better than one and two rings since his last one (2007) would be something that only his little brother as managed to do. Let’s not forget that this is that same little brother’s stadium where Manning will be playing in on Sunday. I could go on and on about how much is at stake but I can’t help but side with Peyton Manning when it comes to to his opinion on the matter. We all know how much is on the line, it’s the Super Bowl. The biggest sporting event in the country and one of the biggest in the entire world. So there’s no doubt that it’s going to be a major part of how we look at Manning but it’s not going to make or break what he’s done in his already legendary career. Let’s save all the legacy talk until Manning’s career is completely over, not before one championship game.

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Denver is methodical and Seattle holds as they are both conference champions.


Yesterday’s games surprised me. To begin with, I didn’t expect the Broncos have a such a dominant victory over the Patriots. Denver was a dominant team for the most part of the season but late in the season, questions started to arise about how well they would perform when it was all on the line. After all, recent history showed that when it mattered most, Tom Brady and the Patriots should have been victorious yesterday afternoon. But as we all know and have come to realize, “should have” is not a phrase that matters in sports. Especially at the professional level. We were “supposed” to see at least one of the home teams lose the game. The Patriots’ slow start pretty much squashed their chances of coming back, even with a chance for a one-possession game late in the game. It was San Francisco’s turn to be David, showing all the signs of a team bound for their second Super Bowl in a row. Someone forgot to tell Seattle about all of that, taking the 49ers’ best punch early and coming back with their own strike. What the Broncos and Seahawks showed us, is that in a season where the unexpected was expected, order can be restored and the two favorites can both reach the final game of the season. Before we get to this all-world Super Bowl match up, let’s see how it all went down.

We started the championship Sunday in Denver, where the weather was uncharacteristically warm and the sun was shining all over the AFC title field. Remember how dreary and cold it was when the Ravens won there last year? Peyton Manning’s weather “demons” weren’t going to be a factor. While Manning didn’t make any throws that jumped off the screen, he did manage to rack up 400 yards and a couple of TDs, most of which was the result of long and methodical drives. In fact, Manning’s most memorable moment (too many m’s?) came when he bobbled a snap but recovered and easily threw a first down pass. The Broncos started off well, taking advantage of the Patriots’ defensive back Aqib Talib, their best player on defense, getting hurt. Tom Brady never really took the field in the first half, where the Patriots only managed to put up 3 points. Matt Prater’s leg put up most of the points for Denver but it was the long drives that were the key. Remember when the key to stopping Peyton Manning was keeping him off the field? Well that’s what happened, except it was Brady who never had good field position or multiple long drives. Let’s not forget that the Broncos defense limited a Patriots running game that was thought to be very potent. Once the late two-point conversion wasn’t successful for New England, the party started rocking in Denver. Perfect timing on the marijuana legalization law.

Wait, you’re telling me that the two places where marijuana is legal are sending their teams to the Super Bowl? I need to sign the Dallas petition. Seattle is in fact the champion of the NFC and they are going to face off against Denver in Super Bowl 48. Early on in looked like the 49ers were going to run away with this game. San Francisco wasn’t very potent on offense, most of it coming because of Kaepernick’s legs, but their defense was simply amazing in the first half. Neutralizing any and all offense as the Seahawks could only muster a field goal at halftime. Marshawn Lynch had a big scoring run to start the second half. But the Niners responded quickly, scoring on this incredible throw by the 49ers’ QB. Am I the only one who realizes how mind-blowing that throw was? As incredible as that throw was, Kaepernick also had two key interceptions, the second one sealing the deal for Seattle. The second one was the Richard Sherman interception. Sherman made an incredible play to seal the deal for the Seahawks, and for all of his obnoxious antics, at the very least, #25 backs up his talk with his play. San Francisco’s rally came up just a bit short and Seattle is on their way to New York, to try and win their first Super Bowl. The Seahawks fans are celebrating endlessly right now but shame on them for throwing food on Navarro Bowman, who suffered a gruesome injury. It looks like it was only one idiot but it’s not something you ever want to see.

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What will happen in the NFL’s championship weekend?


It’s quite amazing the way the NFL season played out from start to finish. Plenty of chaos from week to week, no team safe from defeat, but in the end the teams that we predicted would be here, are going to be playing for a chance to play in the Super Bowl. Vegas had the Broncos, 49ers, Seahawks and Patriots as the four teams with the highest odds to win the Super Bowl before the season began, in that order. So did we essentially waste our time watching the NFL this season? From a Cowboys fan’s perspective, it would have been nice to not have to deal with all those heart-breaking defeats. But as a fan of professional football fan, I don’t regret any of the Sundays (Thursday and Monday too) that I spent watching glued to my TV. My girlfriend might think differently but that’s another topic altogether. What are we going to see this weekend? Even if you’re not a fan of any of these teams, one has to admit that these two match-ups have the greatest potential out of all the teams in the NFL. Brady-Manning in their 500th installment to go along with the best rivalry in football and maybe all US sports right now, the 49ers and Seahawks. Despite how predictable it was for these to be the four teams left standing, it’s still going to be nearly impossible to predict what’s going to happen this weekend. As always, i’ll try to do my best:

For a minute, I was very much surprised that the Patriots visiting the Broncos was in fact NOT the final game of the day and/or weekend. The two most famous NFL players on the planet going head-to-head is everything that the NFL wants but because of something called time zones, it’s batting lead off. Could this be the last time Tom Brady and Peyton Manning face each other in the postseason? If so, the stakes could not be higher. Manning is fresh off a solid opening playoff victory that, oh yeah, featured a record-breaking regular season. I’m sure if you ask Brady he’ll say he doesn’t care because the only stat that matters is Super Bowl wins, something that Brady has had over Manning for their entire careers. Massive stakes here folks but it’s not just about the men behind center come game time. New England now has a running game that can match Denver yard for yard and score for score. Neither defense is going completely shutdown their opponent’s offense for the entire game. Remember, last time these two teams squared off, the Patriots rallied furiously in the second half to win the game. I don’t see that kind of game playing out but the final score of the game (34-31) is what I do expect to be similar. It will be a tense game with lots of memorable plays and one of two plays off special teams that change the momentum. Who wins? Whoever has the ball last. Could be Brady but it’s probably going to be Manning. Broncos edge out the Patriots.

From there we head west and we head north into Seattle, for a showdown between two divisional rivals. In case any of you didn’t know, the 49ers and Seahawks don’t like each other. Colin Kaepernick and his crew will certainly feel the pressure from Seattle’s robust home field advantage but how much will it really matter? Right now, the 49ers are playing the best football in the league and have looked the most impressive throughout these playoffs. Momentum is always a factor and if you’re the road team, it matters that much more. But despite all of that, let’s take a look at the facts: last time these two teams squared off, the 49ers edged out the Seahawks in the Bay Area. The last time it was in Seattle (second game of the season) the Seahawks completely dominated the Niners, only allowing 3 points. Everyone knows that both of these defenses are among the best in the league but what worries me, if i’m a Seahawks fan, is how their offense is playing. Aside from Beast Mode, Seattle’s offense has been slacking and going up against San Francisco’s line isn’t going to help. I can’t shake that just like I can’t shake that despite Seattle’s pass defense, the 49ers have enough weapons to move the ball enough. The Seahawks were the best team all season and should be favored because of how good they’re at home but I just like how complete San Francisco looks right now. 49ers win a tough game in Seattle to go back to the Super Bowl.

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In an NFL season full of chaos, the Divisional Playoff games provided stability


Every single team that won this weekend, was favored by the fans, analysts and whatever legal (illegal) betting lines one looks at. Who could have predicted that? For this entire NFL season, there seemed to be some sort of surprise, lurking behind every game that came out to surprise us before the final whistle was blown. That’s the main reason that I went ahead and picked the Chargers to upset the Broncos. Did I really think San Diego would go into Denver and take down the most successful offense in the league’s history? Not necessarily, but judging by this season, it would not have surprised me. The Chargers, showing all the signs of past Super Bowl winners, almost tied the game near the end but Denver played sound football to close out the game. So did New England, Seattle and San Francisco. Maybe that’s what was so chaotic about this weekend: the fact that in a season full of surprises, the teams that were “supposed to win” actually went out and did just that. It sets up for some really good conference title games, with endless story lines, but first let’s just take a quick look at how these teams got in to the final four.

As most people (social media) have made fun of by now, it’s baffling to think about what Marquis Colston was doing at the end of the Saints-Seahawks game. My only guess is that he assumed there wasn’t any time left on the clock but even then, no matter what your position, an NFL-level player should now how to properly execute a lateral. What’s most surprising than that bizarre play is that despite New Orleans not playing all that well, they were still in the game until the final minute. Lots of that goes to Seattle’s defense, who deserve tons of credit for shutting down the Saints the entire first half. Think about this: Drew Brees didn’t find Jimmy Graham until less than a minute was left in the game. Maybe that’s what happens when Richard Sherman decides to follow and hound Graham for the entire game. Marshawn Lynch was the main weapon for the Seahawks (130 yds, 1 TD) and his power running led the way on the offensive side for Seattle.

Things weren’t so close on Saturday night with the Colts taking on the Patriots in Foxborough. I wasn’t surprised about the Patriots coming out with such a dominant win, scoring at will against a Colts defense that just seemed overwhelmed. Who could have predicted that the Patriots would score over 40 points in the playoffs without any of those scores coming from Tom Brady but instead, a power running game? LeGarrette Blount was the feature back for New England, scoring four TDs on the ground as he led the Patriots’ offense. How crazy is that? For the Colts and Andrew Luck, it’s growing pains as this young team continues to progress. Luck’s second year brings him a bit further in the playoffs but his errors (4 INTs) show that he still a lot of time to grow in his young career. The Patriots now advance to their third straight title game against a familiar opponent.

Speaking of third straight conference title games, how impressive were the 49ers yesterday? Out of all teams that won this weekend, San Francisco looked the most impressive, on the road and heading to their 3rd straight NFC title game. It’s a run that also includes a Super Bowl berth and the most impressive stretch for any team in recent years. Even though Carolina led for most of the 2nd quarter, San Francisco just kept playing their style of football and took back control of the game. Kaepernick’s stat sheet didn’t particularly stick out but he played sound football and made the right plays. His main target was Anquan Boldin, who continues to come up big when his team needs it the most. The Panthers were a bit disappointing but when looking at their team, it’s difficult for a team with lack of experience to come out on top against an experienced team like the Niners. Panthers have a nice future but right now, it’s the 49ers time.

Things ended in Denver, where the Broncos took a big lead over San Diego and did enough to fight off a late Chargers comeback that fell short. Peyton Manning led the Broncos, as usual, as they dominated the first half. Not just on the offense but Denver shutdown San Diego’s offense for three quarters, not allowing a score until a couple of minutes into the 4th quarter. It was impressive but as San Diego started to make a comeback, things started to get really interesting. But unfortunately for Philip Rivers and co, they did not get a final attempt to tie the game as the Broncos played very well in controlling the clock and getting key first downs. From there it was a just a couple of kneel downs by Manning, and the Broncos move on to face the Patriots in what should be a great AFC conference title game.

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NFL Playoffs preview: Divisional Round


We’re officially at the apex of the football season. I know the ratings will continue to climb until we finally get to the Super Bowl, but in terms of amount of quality football that we’re going to watch, the divisional round provides the best and the brightest. Just look at the QBs we’re going to be seeing this weekend. One could argue that if you assume Aaron Rodgers also belongs, the remaining eight quarterbacks are the best in the league right now. There’s a combination of veterans with postseason experience mixed with the young, up and coming future faces of the league. What more could a football fan as for? But as the games gets tighter, it gets more and more difficult to predict. From past experience, I’ve always realized two things about the second round. The first is to never overreact after a first round victory. The second is that there’s always a home team that gets upset in the divisional round.

The divisional festivities begin with the Saints in Seattle, a rematch from Week 13. In fact, all but one of this weekend’s games are rematches. Last time these two teams squared off, it was completely dominated by the Seahawks from start to finish. Do the Saints have a realistic shot to win in Seattle? Right now, Seattle (-8) is a heavy favorite and most people don’t give New Orleans a realistic shot at winning the game. I’m not in that camp. First of all, the Saints have clear advantages in two key positions: quarterback and head coach. Drew Brees didn’t need a heroic effort last week as the Saints had a solid running game. If that stays true, New Orleans has a shot to control the clock and minimize the crowd noise by getting constant first downs. Despite some of the advantage the Saints might have, i’m not going to pick them to win this game. Seattle’s pass defense is just too good and they’ve been nearly unstoppable at home. Saints give a good fight but the Seahawks move on the NFC title game.

Prime time Saturday features the most eye-catching quarterback match up. All-American hero and poster boy Tom Brady is looking to further improve his postseason resume when future great Andrew Luck visits the Patriots (-7) in Foxborough. The Colts are firing on all cylinders after their second half comeback over the Chiefs but is that enough to get them going in the first half of this game, given their season trend of slow starts? The Patriots aren’t the type of team that gives up big leads. In fact, Belichick and Brady are well known for running up the score, showing no mercy when it comes to putting their opponents away. If i’m a Colts fan, that’s what fears me the most. Aside from the QB battle, the Colts pass offense against the Patriots defense is the match up that intrigues me the most. Can Indianapolis take advantage of a porous New England secondary? Luck will most likely be great and continue to fight, no matter what the score is, but I feel the Patriots will get off to a fast start that they won’t give up.

Sunday begins with what I believe to be the most competitive game of the weekend. What baffles me about this game is that the 49ers (-1) are favorites on the road, against the Panthers, who beat them previously in SF exactly two months ago. I know, I know, the Niners were missing some key players but it feels slightly disrespectful to Cam Newton and co to be underdogs. These two teams play a very similar style. Both have excellent defenses and an excellent running game, led by their dual-threat QBs. It’ll be interesting to see how well Kaepernick’s connection with Michael Crabtree continues after a great performance last week. Not having Steve Smith at 100% will hurt the Panthers’ offense but I expect the Carolina defense to do well in limiting the 49ers attack. Even as I write this, i’m still not sure who is going to win this game. In all honesty, it will come down to who has the ball last in scoring position. Carolina’s only loss at home this season was to Seattle, in the first game of the season. Panthers edge out the Niners.

We’ll know three of the four teams left by the time the Chargers visit Denver (-9.5) to take on Peyton Manning and his arsenal of weapons. Last time around in Denver, Phil Rivers (Mr Bolo tie) and the Chargers surprised the Broncos on a Thursday night. How much do we take from that game? Thursday night games are always wonky but the Chargers presented some real problems for the Broncos. San Diego is showing all the signs of the Super Bowl champs of the past few years, catching breaks and gaining momentum at the games go on. This time around the Chargers defense won’t have Andy Dalton’s mistakes to take advantage of. Or will they? Manning’s “cold weather woes” will unlikely be in play but his “Chargers woes” will be. Yes, i’m going for it. The Chargers will control the clock with long drives, get enough pressure on Manning and upset the Broncos. Because of the way the league has been going all season long, i’m going with the possible over the probable in this game. Chargers upset the Broncos.

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