News and Notes for AFC Championship Game Matchup Between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos

pats-broncos-better-headlinesA pair of New England Patriots rookie wide receivers remain questionable for the AFC Championship game. Suffering from both a concussion and injured hip, Kenbrell Thompkins did participate in practice this week and could be ready to go by the time the game rolls around on Sunday. Aaron Dobson aggravated a foot injury in New England’s Week 17 finale and missed their divisional round win against the Indianapolis Colts. Dobson saw the practice field for the first time since re-injuring his foot and remains questionable.

The Denver Broncos signed five-year NFL veteran Marquice Cole on Tuesday. He’s slated to get some playing time against New England after the Broncos best cover guy, Chris Harris, tore his ACL in the divisional round. Cole has two career starts under his belt, including one for the Patriots back in 2013. Overall, the veteran played 27 games for New England in two seasons, recording 27 tackles and two interceptions.

Tom Brady missed practice once this week. The future Hall of Fame quarterback was sent home from practice along with long snapper Danny Aiken on Tuesday. While there aren’t any reports what the illnesses might have been, it’s safe to say that a cold or the flu could be to blame, especially considering that we are currently in the midst of winter. Brady will be okay and it was likely a precautionary measure. As Allen Iverson would say, “you are talking about practice, man.”

This entire game surrounds the Brady-Peyton Manning matchup. As two of the best quarterbacks in the history of the league, they are meeting on the biggest stage the AFC has to offer, possibly for the last time. Brady has had the best of Manning in the postseason, winning two of the three postseason games between the two. Manning did, however, win the last matchup back in the 2006 AFC Championship game…eventually leading the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears. This is the first time that the two will meet with Manning in a Broncos’ uniform.

OMAHA. This is a term that the football world has become familiar with over the past few days after Manning seemingly spouted it off about 5,000 times in Denver’s divisional round victory against the San Diego Chargers last weekend. For his part, Manning isn’t about to give away what it means.

I’m not sure I know how to answer that, but I’ve had a lot people ask what Omaha means…Omaha’ is a run play, but it could be a pass play or a play-action pass depending on a couple things – the wind, which way we’re going, the quarter and the jerseys that we’re wearing.  It varies really play to play.  There’s your answer to that one.

Patriots’ running back LeGarrette Blount had a career game last week against Indianapolis. He became the first running back in the NFL to put up four touchdowns in a postseason game since Ricky Watters did it for the San Francisco 49ers back in 1994. Overall, Blount has 355 yards and six touchdowns in New England’s last two games. That’s the best two-game stretch in the history of the franchise…not too bad for a castoff from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It remains to be seen just how much Blount’s performance will impact how much Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen play in this one. Remember, they were 1A and 2B on the depth chart for a vast majority of the season, well when the latter was actually on the field and healthy.

Game-time weather for this one is expected to be around 50 degrees and sunny, which is a complete reversal from the windy conditions at Gillette Stadium when these two teams played during the regular year. There was a lot made about Manning’s inability to perform in those conditions, less than 150 passing yards…that shouldn’t be an issue come Sunday.

If New England comes out on top Sunday, it will be the sixth time that it has landed in the Super Bowl in 12 seasons. That would represent one of the greatest dynasties in league history. The interesting dynamic here, however, is that it’s a widespread belief that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady deserve more credit this year than in any other season before. Prior to the season, Aaron Hernandez was arrested on murder charges and was pretty much wiped from the history of the Patriots’ organization.

Rob Gronkowski was still suffering an arm injury, and missed the first month-and-a-half of the season. Key defensive stalwarts such as Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly and Jered Mayo all missed a vast majority of the regular season. It really has been a plug-and-play type of situation for the Patriots this season. If it is able to advance to the Super Bowl, it’s safe to say that Belichick and Brady have probably done the best jobs of their careers.

Broncos’ offensive coordinator Adam Gase is unlikely to leave for the Cleveland Browns head coaching position. Reports on Saturday indicated that he wants another season in this role in order to hone his craft. It could, however, be said that Gase will try his luck when better opportunities than the Browns job opens up next offseason.

Marijuana, as a recreational drug, was legalized in the state of Colorado earlier this year. Patriots coach Bill Belichick indicated to the team that they shouldn’t be “stupid,” upon traveling to the Mile High city. While this seems like common sense more than anything else, ask Davone Bess and the Cleveland Browns what “logic” means.