Saturday, January 18, 2014

Weather to favor air attack in AFC title game


A day before the New England Patriots take the field against the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game, the weather continues to appear favorable -- depending on how you look at it.

According to, the teams will be competing in near-60 degree temperatures with a zero percent chance of precipitation and the wind hovering around the 10 mile-per-hour mark.

"What I’ve learned in going on my three years here in Denver is it can change quickly," Broncos coach John Fox said Friday, via "So the forecast is what it is. We’ll see what the weather brings when we get there."

Fox's skepticism aside, all will be clear Sunday afternoon. That's good news for the NFL's two best quarterbacks, though probably better news for Peyton Manning.

The Patriots' running game picked up major steam through the end of the regular season and has emerged as the postseason's best. New England's strength of late has been in the offensive line and on the legs of tailback LeGarrette Blount, which has been critical given Tom Brady's ever-changing pass-catching corps.

Obviously, Brady is plenty capable of carrying the team on his shoulder, and he has developed very good rapport with Julian Edelman and, when healthy, Danny Amendola.

But the Broncos lean much more heavily on their air attack, and the near-perfect weather conditions will allow Manning to do what he does best.

Knowshon Moreno did rush for 224 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries when the teams met in November. The Patriots still won, and it's very hard to imagine Moreno will get that kind of workload this time around.

It'd be quite the show if the Patriots stuck to their ground-and-pound ways and found success via long, clock-churning drives capped off by Blount scores while Manning went the other way in half the time by throwing it all over the lot.

However, the Patriots are likely going to need to unleash Brady, who threw three second-half touchdowns against the Broncos last time around.

Both signal-callers insists it isn't Brady vs. Manning, because they're not on the field at the same time. But with this kind of weather, it's Brady vs. Manning, no matter how they shake it.

"I think we just have to understand what it's going to take from our offense to go out there and win a very tough game on the road against a very good team led by one of the great quarterbacks of all time," Brady said.

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