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The Men Up North AFC Championship Week Predictions

Tom Brady, Deflategate

Due to scheduling conflicts, The Men Up North Sports’ Podcast will not air this week. However, Matt Bushnell and Felipe Melecio did have a conversation about the upcoming AFC and NFC Championship games. Here is how they broke things down beginning with the American Football Conference.

Felipe: So we last left off talking about the NFC Championship game. What do you see in the AFC Championship game in Denver?


Matt: The first thing coming to mind is injuries on the Patriots. I am surprised Rob Gronkowski can still walk. Julian Edelman‘s health is also a concern for me.

Fortunately, they still have Tom Brady who is performing at a high level when the team needs him most. However, it may not be enough. I just don’t know how much gas is left on this team.

Felipe: You question the Patriots’ health, but the Denver Broncos are relatively healthy, but they’re not the model of consistency on offense right now.

Matt: First thing that comes to mind with the Broncos; “is this it?” Are we experiencing Peyton Manning‘s last stand? He has weapons, but can he get the ball to them? All I can think of is that scene with Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven near the end where his character is making his last stand. Eastwood comes out on top in that film. Will Manning replicate that story this weekend? I think Manning will do enough to get over-the-top.

Felipe: The Broncos are loaded at the skill positions, most notably Demaryius Thomas at wide receiver. You would think that would be enough to give Denver an edge.

Matt: Usually, yes. However, with Manning’s skills seemingly deteriorating at a rapid pace, I’ll give the edge to the Patriots on offense.

Felipe: What about defensively? How do both teams stack up?

Matt: Starting out with the Patriots, this unit is the walking wounded and not much analysis needs to be done for this team. They have to stop the short passes and put pressure on Manning. There is a big gap between these two teams on this side of the ball. The question is, “can the Patriots do enough to stop Manning and the Broncos offense?” I don’t know but I am really looking forward to watching it. But this defense is not the one from last year and if they advance, it could very well be the worst defense Bill Belichick has brought with him to the Super Bowl.

Felipe: Meanwhile, I’ve listened to you sing the praises of the Broncos’ defense all season long.

Matt: This unit is special, and I mean really special. They are good at every level and for those who think Brady is going to shred this unit you better think again. This defense is going to create chaos and cause Brady to have a bad day at the office.

What can be done to stop this you ask? The answer is nothing! The Broncos defense is coming and they are bringing hell with them. They are overwhelmingly more talented and better than the Patriots in this department. The edge goes to the Broncos on defense.

Felipe: Meanwhile, from the coaching standpoint, it’s safe to say Belichick is far and beyond superior over Gary Kubiak.

Matt: All scandals aside, you might be looking at one of the greatest, if not the best coach of all time in Belichick.


Felipe: Meanwhile, in the intangibles department, the Broncos are at home, they’re up in the thin air of the Mile High City. That should prove to be a huge advantage once again. On the other hand, the Patriots like to cheat…

Matt: …now, now, those are alleged and a lot of times, these “investigations” have come out with more mixed results than anything concretely conclusive.

But this is once again another matchup between the two greatest quarterbacks of this generation; it’s another “Manning vs Brady Bowl.” Manning will be at home, facing off with his old nemesis in Brady. A team and quarterback that has given Manning fits throughout his long and brilliant career. I can see Manning wearing those scares and scars from so many beatings and battles from yesteryear, but I think Manning has one last great stand left in him. It will be interesting to see if his body will perform in the biggest game of the season, but he has the weapons to help Denver win this game.

Felipe: Defensively, I’ve heard you compare the Broncos to the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. The pattern is there, every 15 seasons we see a great defensive unit come together and do something very special in the NFL.

Matt: And that is why I’m going with the Broncos in this game and they will be winning the same way they’ve been winning for most of the season: close, tight, low-scoring game. If that happens, that plays into the hands of the Broncos’ game. Final score: Denver 18, New England 17.


FelipeI too want to say Denver, but I just think about Manning and the flutterballs he leaves in the air for too long, or the quick strikes he attempts to throw that fall one or two yards short of his intended target. And every time I have doubted Brady in the last two years, he finds ways to show up for the biggest of games.

Tom Brady has to face a historically, amazing defense? No problem, Brady will find a way to take care of it in the most hostile of places to win for any road team. If anyone can do it, Tom Brady can. I think Brady and his Bunch will go into Denver, overcome injuries and other health questions, and “upset” the Broncos. Final score, New England 27, Broncos 19.

This will set up a Super Bowl match between the Patriots and the Cardinals.

Matt: No way, it will be the Broncos and Cardinals. One thing’s for sure, however; Sunday can’t come quickly enough!

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