The Denver Broncos are set to host the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship on Sunday. The winner will go on to the Super Bowl, where they'll face either the San Francisco 49ers or the Seattle Seahawks, who will also play in the NFC Championship on the same day.
Denver is trying to win its first Super Bowl since the 1998 season, when John Elway led the Broncos to their second Lombardi Trophy in his final game in the NFL. Meanwhile, Tom Brady is trying to lead the Patriots to another Lombardi before he calls it a career (whenever that is). Brady has been on the hunt for another Super Bowl ring since the 2004 season.
It's one of the most anticipated games in recent years, mostly due to the perceived rivalry between Brady and Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. Brady and Manning have met several times over the course of their long careers -- 14 times since 2001, in fact.
And Brady holds the edge in the head-to-head by a wide margin. Brady's Patriots have been victorious over Manning's Colts -- or Broncos -- in 10 of the 14 games played. Fortunately for Manning, one of his wins was a big one: a 2006 AFC Championship victory that led to a Super Bowl title for the Colts. But since joining the Broncos, Manning has only faced the Patriots twice.
Their most recent meeting was a 34-31 Patriots victory, in New England, in a game that went to overtime when Manning hit Demaryius Thomas for an 11-yard touchdown pass in the final minutes of regulation. That was after the Broncos allowed the Patriots to score 31 unanswered points in the second half. New England managed a field goal in overtime to seal the win.
But how do the experts think the next one will go? Well, SB Nation's panel of six NFL experts weighed in on the matter and ... there's nothing conclusive. They were split on the game, with three taking the Patriots and three taking the Broncos. Joel Thorman, David Fucillo and Matt Ufford all picked the Broncos, while Ryan Van Bibber, Jason Chilton and Stephen White picked the Patriots.
|Game||Ryan Van Bibber||Joel Thorman||Jason Chilton||Stephen White||David Fucillo||Matt Ufford|
|Patriots vs. Broncos||Patriots||Broncos||Patriots||Patriots||Broncos||Broncos|
Over at CBS Sports, it wasn't an even split with their experts. There are eight picking, and five of them went with the Broncos to win it. That five includes Pete Prisco, Josh Katzowitz, John Breech, Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg. The three picking the Patriots are Jason La Canfora, Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson.