Later this week I fully intend to break down each game as the final four are now set in the National Football League Playoffs. The Broncos will host the Patriots Sunday afternoon while the Seahawks will do the same with the 49ers Sunday evening.
Currently, New England is a 4.5 point underdog on the road in Denver while San Francisco is a 3.5 point dog heading to Seattle. My goal for today is to throw some different statistics and trends at you and then later in the week I’ll focus more on the players and what we can expect on the field. First up is the AFC Championship Game.
New England at Denver
The Patriots are making their 10th trip to the AFC Championship Game. That will put them in 3rd behind the Oakland/LA Raiders who are in second in the AFC. The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the way in the AFC with 15 title game appearances. New England is 7-2 in AFC Title games and this will also be the Patriots’ first road playoff game since 2006 and their last road playoff win was that year against the Chargers.
Denver is making their ninth appearance in the AFC Championship Game and has a record of 6-2. Their nine appearances rank them fourth overall in the AFC right behind the Patriots. The Broncos have not won a conference championship since John Elway was in his final year in 1998. They lost their only other appearance in 2006 to the Steelers at home in Denver.
Manning and Brady
Quarterbacks obviously are the key focus heading into this game but of late, neither Tom Brady nor Peyton Manning has played particularly well in the playoffs. Dating back to 2009, Brady has thrown 16 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions over the course of eight games. His completion percentage was above 65% only once during that stretch.
Manning removed a very large monkey off of his back on Sunday when his Broncos won. That moved his playoff record to 10-11 but he had lost eight times in his team’s opening playoff game. Over his last eight postseason games, Manning has 16 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. His completion percentage has been 65% or above in seven of those eight contests. Manning is also 2-2 in championship games while Brady is 5-2.
Brady owns a 2-1 playoff advantage over Manning and they are tied at one win apiece in the AFC Championship game. They have not faced each other in the playoffs since 2006 when Manning’s Colts rallied to beat the Patriots en route to Manning’s only Super Bowl win.
AFC Title Game Trends
Prior to last year when the Patriots lost to Baltimore in Foxboro, the home team had won six straight conference championships. Teams that have lost in the AFC Title Game have average just over 18 points in the loss while winning teams have averaged just under 27 points in their victories. Those averages consist of the last seven games in all.
The O/U is currently at 55 and considering the scoring that took place in cold temperatures in Foxboro earlier this season, I’d say that number is not safe. The Broncos average 38 points per game and the only team to keep them under 30 this year was San Diego who did it in all three meetings. The Patriots average 28 points per game and are coming off a game where they scored over 40 without so much as one Tom Brady touchdown pass.
Defensively, both teams surrender over 20 points per game. With weather conditions currently forecasted to be mild and with no precipitation, scoring conditions could not be more ideal so you really should be on the over here without hesitation.
Check back on Thursday for the NFC Championship Game Trends.