Pro Football Betting: AFC Championship – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS at DENVER BRONCOS (1/24)

PRO FOOTBALL — January 24

AFC Championship
NEW ENGLAND at DENVER

(America’s Bookie Line: Patriots -3, Total 44.5) — Denver beat New England – in overtime – earlier in the season, and that is how they get to host this title contest. But that didn’t seem all too important to Bill Belichick, at least from the way he handled the regular season finale against Miami, when the Pats could have secured home field advantage. Let’s acknowledge that it is pretty hard to beat the same team twice in one season at the same venue, even if we are talking about the visitor, and that the Pats should be extra tough here, since they have Julian Edelman on hand. Remember that Tom Brady is 69% accurate WITH him, and just 59% without him, and that the Pats converted only 31% of their third downs without the little guy in the lineup. So this is a problem for Denver’s defense, even as it has ranked #1 in drive stats, allowed just 4.6 yards a play, and recorded 52 sacks. Brady can get rid of the ball quickly enough so that the Denver pass rush could be minimized, and he has a healthy Sebastian Vollmer in there to protect him. And the Pats don’t count on a running game anyway, so how important is Denver’s 3.3 ypc allowed?

The Patriots’ defensive ability should not be minimized one bit. They have 49 sacks of their own (regular season), which means that they might be able to bring constant pressure on Peyton Manning, who is going to be a tad less mobile than Brady. And if Manning can’t get it down the field the way he used to, the Broncos may need to duplicate their 179-yard ground effort in the earlier meeting. Otherwise (and maybe this is the part of the game Bill Belichick elects to try and shut down) Denver will find itself in tough down-and-distance situations, and they were three-and-out more often than all but two teams. The Pats have forced three-and-outs more frequently than anyone (31.6%), which means that Brady could be operating on shorter fields than he might normally. We understand how good Denver’s secondary is, but really, who is going to guard all these receivers?

PLAY BY JAY: NEW ENGLAND -3 ***

(All information is for news matter only; All games are graded on a scale of 1-4 stars. Lines are subject to change)