@TSFSports AFC Championship prediction: Clash of the Titans

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Clash of the Titans

Transformation is a beautiful thing. The metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly signifies the conception, struggle and survival of a thing that gives way to a beautiful state of being. Similarly the two teams meeting on Sunday the result of a beautiful transformation.

 

The best offense in the league.

The Denver Broncos changed from the “Tebow and pray” offense to the most prolific passing attack in NFL history. With NFL MVP Peyton Manning at the helm for a second year, motioning and directing, the Broncos offense is a constantly probing seek and destroy mission.

The receiving foursome of Thomas, Decker, Welker and Thomas combined the Ball/Moreno backfield make for what seems like infinite possibilities. Much like a mad scientist Manning seems hell bent on finding every single one. Countless superlatives come to mind in trying to describe the way that Peyton Manning commands the number one (1) ranked offense in the league. He is a maestro and his orchestra performs flawlessly.

The Broncos receiving corp will look to strike early and often.

If you are to stop this aerial assault some teams have shown the ability to physically challenge every route runner off of the line of scrimmage. Thereby, such a rhythmic offense is disrupted making for tougher catches (and therefore fewer yards after), more incompletions, poor routes and (ideally) interceptions. Manning’s surgical brilliance when throwing the football instills confidence in his receivers. If you are able to disrupt him and bring some static into that crystal clear signal, you have a chance to beat him and in turn beat them.

Defensively Denver is led by defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. All year he has shown a propensity to pressure up front and allow his safeties and cornerbacks to go after interceptions and big hits should the ball make it into the air. Danny Trevathan and Shaun Phillips leads a group of rush linebackers that, even in the absence of Von Miller, do a decent job pressuring the quarterback (41 sacks on the year).

The New England Patriots have transformed from an offense heavily reliant on two dynamic young tight ends and a remarkably consistent slot receiver to a power run game, subsequent play action schemes and short passing routes.
The three-headed monster of Blount, Ridley and Bolden targets defenses early and often allowing for Tom Brady to selectively pick only the most attractive chances to advance the ball via the pass.

Thirty plus carries could swing the game in favor of the visitors.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this patriots attack is that it thrives alongside a Hall of Fame quarterback and not in spite of an unproven rookie. Usually a run game this potent is reserved for teams in which the best player on offense is the running back. For New England, there is always the option of allowing Tom Brady to drop back and fire 35-45 passes a game. There are only a handful of quarterbacks in the history of the game with a resume like his. Yet this team is more formidable when the running back triumvirate gets 40-50 touches and the Patriots win a time of possession type battle.
If Josh McDaniels is not afraid to stick to the run and attack the Broncos top ten (7th) ranked rush defense, the Patriots can win on the road. Denver is susceptible to running teams that will continually challenge at the line of scrimmage. All of their losses in the regular season, (Colts,Chargers,Patriots) included a time of possession that exceeded 33 minutes and included at least 30 carries. If New England hits those benchmarks they will be Super Bowl bound.

New England showed some physicality in the secondary as well as solid tackling last week against Indianapolis. That will bode well in attempting to corral the Broncos receivers. Aqib Talib and Alfonso Dennard lead a group that is only recently gelling as a unit due to injuries. The strength of the Patriots unit will lay in solid tackling, limiting big plays through the air and killing drives when the opportunity presents itself. Be it by forcing turnovers or getting stops on third down, they have to pressure Manning in order to get him to make throws into coverage.

The New England secondary will be tested.

Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense is truly a phenomenon. Unfortunately they do not play defense. They cannot score if they do not have the ball. I see New England running roughshod over the Denver defense and advancing.

Patriots 31 –  Broncos 27

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