If you’re having trouble finding the updated odds to win the 2014 AFC Championship, it’s because they’re hidden in the moneyline of the Patriots-Broncos mega battle approaching this weekend. Right now, the Patriots are +170 underdogs straight up, while Denver is preferred by the oddsmakers at -210, as well as spread favorites of -4.5. Can Peyton Manning claim his third AFC championship and deny Tom Brady from claiming sole possession of the most conference titles by any quarterback?
Manning is coming off his best season ever, which is saying something considering he’s won the most MVP’s in league history. His 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns were both NFL records and personal bests. This offense was also the most prolific of all time. It’s one of the greatest quarterbacks at his absolute best, playing on a team that seems virtually unstoppable.
Sound familiar? It should. It’s the same thing we said about the 2007 New England Patriots who were upended by what should have been an overwhelmed, injury depleted Giants team. The moneyline in that Super Bowl doesn’t compare to the updated odds to win the 2014 AFC Championship, but it’s worth bringing up because there is likely no team on the planet that understands the mindset of being the king of the mountain in the regular season better than the Patriots.
The pressure on Denver is massive.
Make no mistake about the magnitude and scope of this matchup. While Brady and Manning will hog the spotlight, this is a team sport. Both defenses in this game are lacking to a huge extent. The Patriots were crushed by the long ball last weekend on three separate occasions, two of which became Andrew Luck touchdowns. Overall they ranked 18th against the pass, which is a small miracle considering the personnel. It could be a very long day for this secondary given the pace Manning has set this season.
Denver will have its hands full quite literally with LaGarette Blount, who rumbled for four touchdowns last weekend. Blount’s mere presence alongside fellow tailbacks Ridley and Vareen give the Patriots the kind of depth and talent that San Diego lacked when they tried to expose Denver’s problematic rushing defense. Keep in mind that though Denver allowed just 101.6 rushing yards per game, that is more so a by product of the fact that their opponents were chasing them on the scoreboard more often than not.
In fact, that’s exactly what happened to the New England Patriots when they met the Denver Broncos earlier this year. Down by 24 points, the Patriots turned to their guru – Bill Belichik – and shut down Denver in the second half and unleashed their passing attack en route to a surprising comeback victory. The updated odds to win the 2014 AFC Championship may lean against the Patriots, but the reason the margin between the two isn’t higher is because of Belichik.
You can bet on Knowshon Moreno or LaGarette Blount, Brady or Manning or even the trio of Pro Bowl worthy receivers that Denver boasts. They’re all going to have a huge impact on this game. But if there’s any coach that has routinely got the most of his team on both sides of the ball, it’s the one and only Bill Belichik.
This isn’t the first time that the odds have been stacked against New England, and whenever you count them out, they stun you. The Broncos are a much more logical play in the updated odds to win the 2014 AFC Championship, but my money is on Belichik providing a game plan that mitigates Manning and finally exposes this patchwork Denver defense. Coaching makes a huge difference at this point in the playoffs.
I’m betting on it and grabbing the dog in the updated odds to win the 2014 AFC Championship.