Sunday wasn’t game day for the New England Patriots, but it was still a big day because they found out who they would be playing next week in the AFC Championship game.
It turns out, that team is the Denver Broncos. Today, the Broncos topped the Pittsburgh Steelers, 23-16, at Mile High Stadium. Next week, the Patriots hope that they do not fall victim to the same fate as the Steelers as they head to Denver.
On Nov. 29, 2015, the Patriots suffered their first loss of the season, 30-24, against the Broncos in Denver. It took many significant injuries and overtime for the Patriots’ perfect season to be foiled.
Of course, the Patriots were without slot receiver Julian Edelman in that one. He suffered a broken foot in the Pats’ 27-26 win over the New York Giants two weeks prior. Edelman had been out since that Week 10 injury — until yesterday.
His return proved key for the Patriots yesterday in their 27-20 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. While he did not have a touchdown grab, he led the team with ten receptions and 100 receiving yards. He also had an 11 yard rush.
The Patriots are 10-0 in games that Edelman has played in this season.
The last time the Patriots played the Broncos, Peyton Manning was not under center. Instead, it was Brock Osweiler. Manning was out with a foot injury but against the Steelers today, he got the start. It was not the Manning of old, but he completed 21 of his 37 pass attempts without turning the ball over once.
Manning struggles in cold weather and unfortunately for the Patriots, early weather reports indicate that when the game kicks off at 3:05 p.m. EST next week, it will be 45 degrees Fahrenheit in Denver.
In his career, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 6-2 in AFC Championship games and 3-1 against Manning since he became a member of the Broncos, according to Yahoo Sports.
The last time the two met up was back on Nov. 2, 2014. Brady and the Patriots came up with a lopsided 43-21 win at Gillette.
USA Today reports that the Patriots are favored by 3.5 points to win the AFC while the Carolina Panthers are 2.5 point favorites to win the NFC.