So why is home field so important to these teams? Well, this season the Patriots and the Broncos are the only AFC teams which have won all of their home games (Cincinnati has a tie). Last season they combined for a 15-1 home record in the regular season and a per 3-0 in the playoffs. Let's face it, neither team wants to travel anywhere other than Phoenix in January.
Looking at this season, both teams have a lot in common. Shockingly the Broncos' offense has a higher 3 and out percentage and the Patriots have a higher scoring efficiency percentage. However, when it comes to number of points overall third down efficiency the Broncos have the edge.
Both Brady and Manning have better overall numbers in the first half this season. Keeping that in mind and hoping to make the Broncos play from behind, I hope the Patriots start the game with the ball. Not that they should need it, but a score from the Patriots early on will also liven up the fans and help remind Peyton that he is in Foxboro.
Defensively Denver is better in almost ever statistic except the all important turnover category. In fact the Patriots have twice the number of takeaways with 16.
In order to come out on top today the Patriots are going to need to have a relatively flawless game. My keys to the game are:
Play calling- Josh and Tom need to call a good game. Play action, play action, play action. Stay out of shotgun. If it's first and goal can we just slow down and run a play instead of trying to catch the defense off guard? We haven't scored on that hurry up once this season.
Defensive Schemes- This is where a but of trickery may work. Everyone knows Peyton loves the sideline plays and "throws ducks", be ready for it and play the ball.
Special Teams- This is where the game will be won or lost. Weather will be a factor today, so hopefully it works to our advantage. Peyton is going to get his yards, so don't give him a short field to deal with. Kickoffs need to be through the endzone and punts need to be inside the 15.