Dec 12, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) gestures during the game against the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

AFC Playoffs: Keys to Beating the Denver Broncos

After the Panthers-49ers game, we will be down to just five teams remaining in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy. This weekend features four Divisional playoff games, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. The Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Indianapolis Colts have been eliminated. There are only a few games remaining in these playoffs. The winner of this game plays the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.


The Denver Broncos had a very impressive regular season. Peyton Manning inked his way into even more areas of the record books, taking the Broncos to a 13-3 record, good enough for first place in the AFC Playoffs. Denver will have home-field advantage for any game they play this postseason.

This has been one of Manning’s finest seasons in his decorated career. He finally threw for over 5,000 yards, breaking

Drew Brees’ record for passing yards in the process. Manning tossed 55 touchdowns, breaking Tom Brady’s record for touchdowns. But if you ask me, the most impressive stat for the Broncos offense is that Peyton was only sacked only 18 times this entire season. By comparison, Tom Brady was sacked 40 times. That says a lot about the Broncos offensive unit. Peyton is getting quick releases, the offensive line is offering great protection, the receivers are getting open, and running backs are picking up blitzes.

This leads into the first key to beating Denver: hit Peyton Manning often. It doesn’t even have to be a sack. Just get contact on him. Peyton hardly ever gets hit, and when he does, it really throws him off his game. Look at the game against Indianapolis (the Broncos first loss this season). The Colts sacked Manning four times, and amassed double-digit hits on him. This Broncos running game is not good enough to carry them when the passing game stalls. So make that passing game stall!

The Chargers are playing the Broncos for the third time this season. Safe to say, both teams are familiar with one another.  The Chargers have found a way to dominate Denver in time of possession. The Chargers have held the ball over 38 minutes in both games against the Broncos. Keep their offense off the field, while tiring out their defense. Keep Manning on the sideline in a big winter coat.

The Broncos have the ability to turn a short pass into a huge gain (or touchdown). Don’t let the short pass go to the house. If you plan on blitzing Manning with a defensive back, make sure there is someone there to compensate. Denver will run bubble screens off trips formations. If their receivers get the blocks on the first level, good luck catching Demaryius Thomas with a safety. Even if you do, it’s already a first down. I recommend pressuring with different personnel, and keep the defensive backs in coverage in those overload formations.

Win the personnel battles. This comes right off the last key to victory. When Denver is on defense, run the ball when they are in Nickel, and throw it when they are in a base defense. I would also use at least five DBs on defense, and dare the Broncos to go away from their passing game. I would rather face Knowshon Moreno than Peyton Manning.

(Keys to Beating the San Diego Chargers) (Keys to Beating the Indianapolis Colts) (Keys to Beating the Carolina Panthers) (Keys to Beating the San Francisco 49ers) (Keys to Beating the New England Patriots) (Keys to Beating the Seattle Seahawks) (Keys to Beating the New Orleans Saints)    (Keys to Beating the Cincinnati Bengals) (Keys to Beating the Kansas City Chiefs) Keys to Beating the Philadelphia Eagles) (Keys to Beating the Green Bay Packers)

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Tags: AFC Playoffs Demaryius Thomas Knowshon Moreno New England Patriots NFL Playoffs Peyton Manning

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