The road to the AFC Championship game has been a long and winding one for the New England Patriots. Before their season even started, they had massive turnover with the loss of players that were heavily involved in their offense. By the time the 2013 season starter, Tom Brady was going to work without Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead and Aaron Hernandez. Rob Gronkowski wasn’t around for the first six weeks due to back surgery, either, and exciting weapon Shane Vereen broke his wrist in week one.
Somehow, some way, Bill Belichick and co. kept the ship afloat, and a temporary Gronkowski return helped the Pats look formidable again. Then Gronk went down for good with a knee injury, and the Patriots once again had to find a way to win games and keep being that elite team everyone expects them to be. Despite the ridiculous ailments on their roster (we haven’t even talked about season-ending injuries to Vince Wilfork and Brandon Spikes), New England finished with a solid 12-4 record (amazing, considering everything) and claimed the AFC East for about the millionth season in a row.
Needless to say, Patriots fans are blessed. Not only should New England probably not be here, playing in the AFC title game this week, but it’s arguable they shouldn’t even be in the playoffs. But here they are, with Tom Terrific ready to wage war with another legend across from him, against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Cue the hype train. As if the weight of an AFC Championship game weren’t enough, Patriots and Broncos fans get blessed with a second clash between Brady and Manning. Brady and co. escaped by the skin of their teeth in Foxboro earlier in the year, helping even more to set up arguably one of the most anticipated games (if not the most anticipated) of the entire season.
That’s why it should be a shock to absolutely no one that AFC Championship tickets are the most expensive in four years, sitting at $735 on average with a $283 get-in tag.
With that price comes extraordinary value and potential. While people who purchased Broncos playoff tickets to their so-so win in the divisional round were left a tad underwhelmed, the Patriots put on a show in their second round win, a 43-22 drubbing of the Colts.
Of course, that doesn’t automatically mean New England is a lock to march into Denver and earn their Super Bowl ticket. But their ability to put up 43 points on six rushing touchdowns and basically not even have to use Tom Brady is more than a little impressive. Even better? If the Patriots can do that again this week, it will help keep Peyton Manning off the field and give New England a great chance at winning and moving on to the franchise’s seventh Super Bowl appearance.
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