The Broncos moved on this weekend with a 24-17 victory over the Chargers. The Broncos played much better than their Week 15 matchup with the Chargers. Unlike last year, the Broncos were able to move the chains and pick up some key first downs in the 4th quarter. The Broncos move on and will get to play the Patriots this Sunday in the AFC Championship game. The Patriots are coming off a 43-22 win over the Colts on Saturday. Here are 3 things the Broncos need to do Sunday to beat the Patriots and move on to the Super Bowl.
Shut Down the Patriots Running Game
The Broncos need to be able to shut down a Patriots running game that has been hot lately and gashed the Colts last week for over 200 yards and six touchdowns. The Broncos run defense did pretty well this week shutting down Ryan Matthews and the other Charger backs. They will need to continue to shut down the run this week when the Patriots use a combination of LaGarrette Blount, Steven Ridley, and Shane Vereen. Shutting down the run will make the Patriots offense one dimensional, which can still be a problem because they have Tom Brady, but it will at least keep the Patriots from being able to grind out first downs on the ground.
Get the Patriots’ Offense Off the Field on 3rd Down
Getting the Chargers off the field on 3rd downs was a huge part of why the Broncos won the game last week. The Broncos defense has to get the Patriots off the field on 3rd down and get the ball back into Peyton Manning and the offense’s hands and take the ball out of Brady’s hands. It is going to be even more difficult to do this with the news of Chris Harris‘ torn ACL, but the Broncos will still have Champ Bailey and DRC at the corner back positions.
Run the Ball Well Offensively
The Broncos also need to run the ball well again this time around. They ran the ball well against the Chargers last week and in the Broncos first matchup against the Patriots this year Knowshon Moreno ran for 224 yards on 37 carries. The Broncos need to continue to be successful running the ball to keep the offense balanced and to move the chains. They also need to run the ball well if they have a lead in the 2nd half to keep the clock ticking.
The Broncos and Patriots kickoff Sunday at 1:00 PM Mountain Time in Denver.