The New England Patriots have been the best team in the AFC over the past 13 seasons. The Denver Broncos have had the best regular season record in the AFC in each of the past two seasons. Which team will rise up this weekend and claim a very special NFL betting victory?
AFC Championship Game – Sunday, January 19th
New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos
NFL Football Odds: Broncos -5.5
Why The Patriots Can Cover The Spread:
They are the better team, given the rosters that are active or which are expected to be active. The Patriots, it is true, have lost tight end Rob Gronkowski and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Yet, they manage to patch up holes better than any other team in the league. No team in the NFL prepares its backups better than New England does under head coach Bill Belichick. This team will be ready to play, and it will use the right tactics, especially on offense. It will use film study and practice to do what is needed against a Denver defense that is just not healthy at the right positions.
Bronco defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, a top-level run stuffer, is out for the season. Von Miller, the team’s best pass rusher from the edge, is also done for the season. Chris Harris, the cornerback who made life so miserable for the San Diego Chargers this past Sunday, got injured in the second half, after which the Bolts scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and changed the complexion of the game. Harris might play this weekend, but if he does, he’s not likely to be anywhere near 100 percent, which is what the Broncos need from him. New England is facing a vulnerable opponent that will be making changes on the fly.
Why The Broncos Can Cover The Spread:
They have managed to endure the pressure of their first playoff game. Denver was haunted by its loss to the Baltimore Ravens a season ago in the divisional round of the playoffs. That game weighed on the Broncos for a full year. It’s true that this team is dealing with a lot of key injuries on defense, but you saw how committed the Broncos were to stopping the run this past Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. Denver’s defense played one of its best games of the season and showed a lot of passion. New England’s offense is a lot better than San Diego’s offense, but Denver doesn’t have to hold New England to 17 points in order to win. If Denver keeps New England under 31 points, the Broncos’ offense will be able to attack the Patriots’ suspect defense and enjoy success. The presence of wind in this game could negatively affect Peyton Manning, especially in light of the last time these teams played on Nov. 24 in Massachusetts, but if there’s minimal wind, Denver’s offensive playbook would instantly expand and give the Broncos a great chance of winning. For every reason you can offer in New England’s favor, there’s a reason in Denver’s favor, too.
This game is probably going to be close but New England seems to have the right matchups to control the tempo of this game, cover the spread and win it on the road.
Pick: Patriots +5.5