I’m not much into UFC, but didn’t Conor McGregor say something like “It’s just like the jungle, some mighty gorilla has all of its stuff taken by some young gorilla in the wild and he loses everything” before he beat the previous champion in like -37 seconds? Whatever, given my UFC apathy, I think I’m close enough to the real quote without looking it up.
It’s kinda like Peyton Manning nowadays, isn’t it? Brock Osweiler has taken Manning’s spot, and the old gorilla might not get his throne back atop the jungle. It’s sad to see from an objective standpoint… and it’s not fun to see as a fan of Manning’s chief rival, either. I was at the Pats-Broncos game 2.5 weeks ago, and I missed out on seeing the last Brady-Manning matchup. For all of us as fans, it’ll be frustrating if we don’t get to see Manning either lose to Brady to close out his career or lose before No. 18 can face TB12.
And you know what? I’d much rather have the Pats face Peyton Manning than Brock Osweiler. The 2015 Patriots have a good defense that might become “really good” with full health in the playoffs, but their defense is nowhere near transcendent. But you know what’s a constant staple of Belichick defenses, wherever they are on the scale from “mediocre” (2010-2011) or “historically awesome” (2003-2004)? It’s that they can almost always shut down at least one facet of the opposing offense. BB can take away the best option or take out the other team’s chances of moving the ball in one specific manner. A good, dynamic offense will fare better against the Pats than a great, static one.
If the Pats don’t have to worry about the deep ball against the Broncos, they’ll very likely send Peyton into retirement with another playoff loss. I’d much rather face an offense headed by Peyton Manning whose throwing arm works about as well as a wounded veteran’s.
Having said all of that, you know what’s far more important than who plays quarterback for the Broncos? Where the game is played. I don’t think people realize how much Mile High is a weakness for the Patriots. We’re all willing to admit that the Giants are kryptonite for the Patriots, at least to some degree, but most won’t realize that Mile High is on the same level. The Pats’ season ended there in 2005 and 2013, both times that the Pats and Broncos faced off in Denver in the playoffs since Brady and Belichick started winning rings. Furthermore, the thin air in Denver wears down opposing defenses so long as the Broncos QB can manage the clock reasonably well, and Brock Osweiler proved that he can at least do that much in their Week 12 matchup. The Pats defense was dead by the 4th quarter because of the Broncos time of possession, the lack of oxygen in the air in Colorado, and the crucial injury to Dont’a Hightower.
With a healthy Julian Edelman and hopefully a healthy defense, the Pats would be the clear favorites in Foxboro. If the Denver air and underrated crowd (I was very impressed with the fans there, they’re no joke) can get a crack at the Patriots, the game is a toss up even with Edelman and everyone else healthy. That’s why I’ll be rooting for Pittsburgh this week the 2nd hardest that I’ve rooted for a non-Patriots team this season, right after the Raiders last week.
Yeah, I’d rather have Peyton Manning over Brock Osweiler as a fan of the Broncos’ biggest AFC threat. But that’s not my first concern with the Broncos over the final 3 weeks of the regular season, and it shouldn’t be yours, either. Home field advantage during the playoffs is the most important Christmas gift that I could ask for.