TWD Sunday Sports Thread/AFC Title Game Runthrough Preview For 1/19/14
Besides the obvious stars (Patriots' offensive line, Broncos O'line and receivers, the Patriots running backs), here are the key men who are going under the radar that will help decide or will decide the biggest game in the AFC this season.
X-Factors for Denver-
He was torched last week the minute Chris Harris was ruled out by Kenoy Allen, and he will have to not be beat badly today, especially if he covers Shane Vereen. It is mandatory that he does not get beaten by any non-WR today.
Sylvester Williams and Terrance Knigton, along with Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan
They have to get off the blocks in the Patriots run game and make Brady beat them one dimensionally, especially without Vickerson.
Duke Ihenacho and Mike Adams
So key are these two in making sure to tackle Blount and Ridley if they get to the next level through the linebackers, as well as many sure not to fall asleep if Brady goes over the top to Amendiola and Aaron Dobson, so is active for today.
His return ability could give the field position battle to John Fox's side. It will be interesting how Gostkowski and Allen, who is active, will kick to him.
X-Factors for New England
Ruled active for this game, Dobson going under the radar all week could be the surprise of the day. He is the Patriots' fastest receiver available with Thompkins and Boyce out and could make a few big catches today.
Michael Hoomanawauni, Matthew Muligan, and Shane Vereen
Brady throws to everyone, and on this warm day, his arm will be live to do so. They must make plays not only in the passing game, but in run blocking and pass protection.
He made all the athletic plays last week, in rushing the passer and dropping into coverage. But can he make plays against the run today, with Moreno and Ball definitely looked to be running towards his side. And that's with being the man asked to stop Julius Thomas in coverage today. He must be strong.
Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich
They will be massive but not only in trying to disrupt and handle Manning in the pocket, but for how they will be asked to also drop into coverage and stop the run. They are only strong at rushing the passer.
Even with the great weather, field position will be vital today. Allen is ruled healthy, but will he be effective enough to punt today.
The special teams ace has to be great today in tracking Holliday today on kick coverage.
Harris is a vital loss for the Broncos. But I do think, in this warm weather and how they know they should have buried the Patriots in Foxboro, as well as the Patriots having to adjust to the thin air, I think the Broncos take this one 31-27.
Turnovers will be vital today, important for Manning not be out thought, and for Fox and Del Rio to out think McDaniels today if the Broncos want to go to the Super Bowl.