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Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff  

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Peyton Manning helped lead the Denver Broncos to a 24-17 win over the San Diego Chargers in the AFC divisional round. (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images)

By Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff

There’s going to be a lot of talk of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the coming week.

The Denver Broncos will host the New England Patriots in the AFC title game following the Broncos’ 24-17 win over the San Diego Chargers Sunday, setting up a showdown between the league’s top signal callers.

The AFC title game is slated for 3 p.m. Sunday Jan. 19.

The Patriots have already beaten the Broncos once this season, a 34-31 overtime victory in Week 12, while coming back from a 24-point halftime deficit for the win. Stephen Gostkowski kicked the game-winning field goal from 31 yards out.

The comeback was the Patriots’ largest in franchise history, outscoring the Broncos 34-7 from the second half on, while overcoming 280 yards rushing from Denver. Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno ran for 224 yards and a touchdown on 37 carries.

But the game was fraught with turnovers amid chilly, wintry conditions. It was 22 degrees at kickoff. The two teams combined for 11 fumbles, six of which were lost. Manning also had an interception, finishing 19 of 36 passing for 150 yards.

Brady was much more solid in the cold weather, throwing for 344 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Julian Edelman.

In head to head matchups, Brady is 10-4 against Manning football teams and was 2-1 in the postseason against Manning when he was with the Indianapolis Colts.

The Patriots are 7-2 in the AFC championship. But Brady is just 6-4 on the road in the playoffs and the last time he played an AFC Championship game on the road, Jan. 21, 2007, the Patriots lost 38-34 at the hands of Manning’s Colts.


Posted by Michael David Smith

patriots
APFor the eighth time in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era, the Patriots are heading to the AFC Championship Game.

New England kept it on the ground to beat Indianapolis on Saturday night, with LeGarrette Blount running for four touchdowns and Stevan Ridley running for two more. New England won 43-22 in a game that the Patriots controlled throughout and put out of reach in the fourth quarter.

Blount had a brilliant game, rushing for 166 yards and becoming just the second player in NFL postseason history to score more than three touchdowns in a game. (Ricky Watters of the 49ers owns the all-time record, having scored five touchdowns in a playoff game in January of 1994.)

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw some outstanding passes and showed that he’s one of the most talented young players in the NFL, but he also threw some bad passes and was intercepted four times. The Patriots’ defense frequently gave Luck trouble, and New England linebacker Jamie Collins in particular had an excellent game. It was a win in which the Patriots had plenty to be proud of on both offense and defense.

Now the Patriots will watch Sunday’s Chargers-Broncos game to find out their opponent in the AFC Championship Game. If the Chargers win, New England will host next week’s game. If the Broncos win, the Patriots will travel to Denver for the AFC Championship, and we’ll be treated to a week of Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning hype.

But for all the talk about the quarterbacks, if tonight’s game was any indication, the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game plan will include a heavy dose of Brady handoffs. This was a game the Patriots won on the ground.