This is the matchup everyone wants to see in the playoffs, but for now, must settle on the two Super Bowl contenders squaring-off in Week 12 of the regular season.
Not a bad consolation prize, as the 9-1 Denver Broncos head to Foxborough to face the New England Patriots in a game that will matchup not only the two teams likeliest to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, but also a battle between two future hall of fame quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Both QBs have set numerous records throughout their career, and with 34 TD passes in 10 games, Manning is on pace to break the NFL single-season record of 50 TD passes set by Brady in 2007. Ironically enough, that was three years after Manning threw for a then-record 49 TDs.
There’s a good chance the Broncos won’t have wide receiver Wes Welker, who’s making his return to New England on Sunday night in hopes of helping the Broncos earn a fourth-straight win, but a concussion suffered in this past Sunday’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs may prevent this. With 672 catches and 37 touchdown in his six seasons in New England, Welker was Brady’s most reliable receiver, but now he’s Manning’s favorite target with his 61 catches for 648 yards and nine touchdowns this year.
Speaking of the 9-1 Chiefs, the Broncos need to win this game just to keep pace with their AFC West rivals, who they must face in Arrowhead next week. The Patriots have won three straight over the Broncos, while Manning is 2-7 all-time against Brady in Foxborough. Both teams want this game, but Denver needs this game, and Manning tends to struggle when the games are big and the weather is cold.
On Sunday Night Football, he’ll have to overcome both of those aspects to keep the Broncos atop their division and in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.