AFC Championship Preview: Broncos Must Bring ‘A’ Game, and Running Game, to Beat Patriots

Tom Brady
The Associated Press

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos, 3:05 PM ET on CBS

If you hope for any chance at beating the Patriots, constant pressure on QB Tom Brady remains a must. So the Broncos should have a good chance in this game. They led the NFL in sacks this season.

However, if Brady gets rid of the ball as quickly as he did against Kansas City, Denver might not add much to that sack total. Brady got rid of the ball at an average of 2.13 seconds in New England’s win over Chiefs last week. It’s very hard to sack a QB getting rid of the pigskin that quickly. The Chiefs, with no shortage of good pass rushers, posted no sacks.

“I need to get to him in 1.8 seconds, to be honest with you,” said Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. So Ware, and his fellow Bronco pass rushers, certainly need some help from Denver’s cornerbacks.

“With a guy like Brady, you have to be able to have good corners, which we have, that can give the pass-rushers a little extra time to get there,” Ware said. The Broncos corners, led by two former Kansas Jayhawks, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, need to bring their “A” games.

And so does Denver’s running game. Not only will a strong running game eat up clock and keep Brady off the field, but also help Broncos QB Peyton Manning. Manning plays on a bad foot, and clearly has lost some arm strength. This isn’t the old Manning who could put a team on his back. He needs a running game.

The Broncos are 9-0 when they rush for at least 105 yards this season. Denver needs a strong running game and excellent cornerback play to have a fighting chance in this game.

But that probably won’t be enough. With a nonpareil passing attack, and their best defense in years, New England should win this game.