2014 NFL Conference championships, daily briefing: Tom Brady misses practices, Manning explains "OMAHA!"

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Injury updates, why Peyton Manning was yelling Omaha, Jim Harbaugh's cheap pants and more in today's daily briefing.

Tom Brady missed Patriots practice on Wednesday! PANIC! PANIC! KLAXONS GOING OFF EVERYWHERE! Wait, wait, settle down everyone, it's going to be just fine. Brady indeed did not practice with the team, nor was he even at the team's training facility. Instead he was recuperating from an illness. The team has made it clear it's nothing serious and that their star QB will be more than ready to go come Sunday.

The media asked head coach Bill Belichick about Brady during today's press conference but the always "talkative" boss would only say that the team would release their first injury report later in the day. Belichick was asked the last timethe last time Brady surprised him. He replied, "this morning."

When asked to elaborate on the nature of the surprise would only say that it would between "Tom and I."

Perhaps Brady called his coach with a classic sick call that we've all done at least once in our working lives. You know the one where you try to make your voice sound gravely, maybe throw in a fake cough or two. Whatever it was though, Belichick isn't sharing. Oh well.

With Brady out, backup quarterback Ryan Mallet took all the first-team snaps and scout team snaps in practice.

Wednesday notes

  • 49ers cornerback Ahmad Brooks missed practice on Wednesday with an illness. Has he been hanging out with Tom Brady? Just like the Patriots QB, there's little concern about Brooks being unavailable on Sunday.
  • San Francisco got some positive news on the injury front as well with the return of both cornerback Carlos Rogers and fullback Will Tukuafu. While both were limited in practice, it's a positive sign for their status on Sunday that they both were able to participate. Rogers hasn't practiced since injuring his hamstring in Week 17 while Takuafu injured his knee in the 49ers' win over the Panthers.
  • Not to spend too much time talking about the 49ers but we wouldn't being doing out job if we failed to report on this gem. Head coach Jim Harbaugh, who makes plenty of money, wears $8 khaki pants from Wal-Mart. Seriously. His wife doesn't like them either and wishes he wouldn't wear pleated pants either.
  • Peyton Manning had plenty of nice things to say about Patriots head coach Bill Belichick ahead of yet another meeting between the quarterback and head coach this weekend. Manning called Belichick the "best coach" he's ever competed against and that's not all! He also feels that Belichick will go down as the greatest coach of all time. Bold words Mr. Manning, but I'm not sure everyone is going to agree with that opinion despite Belichick's extended run with the Patriots.
  • If you watched the Broncos' win over the Chargers last weekend, you probably heard Manning shouting the word "Omaha" at least a couple times. In fact, the QB shouted the name of Nebraska's largest city 44 times. He was asked about it on Wednesday and offered an explanation. Secret code? Inside joke? Nope, just a play call that is a "run play, but it could be a pass play or a play-action pass depending on a couple things: when, which way we're going, the quarter and the jerseys that we're wearing." So there you go.

Injury Report

Patriots

DNP: Tm Brady (illness), Danny Aiken (illness). Limited Participation: Ryan Allen, Danny Amendola, Kyle Arrington, Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder), Dane Fletcher (groin), Dont'a Hightower (ankle), Logan Mankins (ankle), Will Svitek (ankle), Kenbrell Thompkins (hip), Shane Vereen (groin).

Broncos

Limited Participation: Mike Adams (thigh). Full participation: Joel Dresseen (knee), Duke Ihenacho (knee), Winston Justice (finger), Chris Kuper (ankle), Peyton Manning (ankle), Kayvon Webster (thumb).

Seahawks

DNP: Percy Harvin (concussion), Jordan Hill (groin), Marshawn Lynch (non-injury related). Limited Participation: K.J. Wright (foot).

49ers

DNP: Ahmad Brooks (illness), Demarcus Dobbs (knee/shoulder), Jonathan Goodwin (foot), Justin Smith (shoulder). Limited Participation: Carlos Rogers (hamstring), Will Tukuafu (knee). Full participation: Navorro Bowman (wrist), Michael Crabtree (wrist), Frank Gore (knee), Dan Skuta (foot).

Number(s) of Interest: Six and Seven

The last six NFC Championship games have been decided by seven points or less. That's a lot of close and competitive games so of course the question becomes whether this weekend's latest version of this game will be just as close. If you look at recent results between the 49ers and Seahawks, the odds of a close game may not be in the cards.

The two teams have met eight times since 2010 -- when the Seahawks hired Pete Carroll -- and they've played only three games decided by seven points or less. The teams have split those games with each winning four, with an average margin of victory of 15.75. The 49ers have only won once in Seattle -- a 19-17 win in 2011 -- during that stretch.

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