Sunday’s X Factors

With this Sunday’s AFC Championship being marketed as yet another Brady / Manning classic. While they may in fact be the most prominent names on the field Sunday that is not exactly a “matchup” that will change the face of the game considering neither QB will line up on defense for their respective teams.
Aquib Talib / Demarius Thomas :
This will undoubtedly be the most talked about 1:1 matchup this week. Talib has done a terrific job shutting down opposing teams #1 weapon (see Jimmy Graham stats vs Patriots for your best example). Talib is playing on a one year contract and is looking to cash in this off season and this could be the make or break game for him and the make or break matchup of the game. Thomas is one of the best weapons in the league and most physical gifted receiver on the Broncos roster and will give Aquib a run for his money and test that hip that has hampered him for most of the season.

Jamie Collins / Julius Thomas :
This matchup may not be as talked about but could in fact change the face of this AFC Championship game one way or another. When the Patriots / Broncos faced off in week 12 Julius Thomas did not play and Jacob Tamme was able to be effective against the Patriots. With Jamie Collins inserting himself into the defense in the absence of Brandon Spikes he will undoubtedly see significant time covering Julius Thomas as he is the best coverage LB on the roster. Last week may have been Collins’ coming out party but the Patriots will need another big game to beat Denver.

Legarette Blount / Broncos rush Defense :
Alot has been said about the Broncos and their “#7 ranked rush defense”. Statistics may very well be misleading in this category as I will bring up the Broncos have had the lead in many of their games forcing their opponents to throw the ball instead of running it. The one game that I constantly think about regarding the Broncos rush defense is the game vs the Chargers when Ryan Matthews was able to have a terrific day rushing the ball helping his team beat the Broncos. If the Patriots can slow down the fast paced Broncos attack and force the pace a hot Legarette Blount may be the last thing the Broncos see this season as he has had his way the past 3 games this year.

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