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Patriots-Broncos AFC Championship Predictions

BOSTON (CBS) - The 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ NewsRadio 1030 and WBZ-TV Sports teams make their predictions for the Patriots-Broncos AFC Championship game.

Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub

The key is going to be the defense getting off the field early, and if anything, if Denver drives into the red zone to hold them to field goals.

The Pats need to get a quick score and get up early. If they can do that, I can see a commanding four-point win, meaning it wasn't as close as it seems in the end.

Patriots 24, Broncos 20

Andy Gresh, 98.5 The Sports Hub

The difference in this one is that Gronk isn't here, but Julius Thomas is.

The Denver defense is not great, and the Patriots should be able to run on it. But I don't think the secondary can deal with all of Peyton Manning's weapons now that Julius Thomas is in the mix.

Broncos 34, Patriots 30

Walt Perkins, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

Twice this season, I elected to go against Tom Brady and the Patriots and both times I was wrong. One of those games was against Denver in Week 12 of the regular season.

It was after that game, the greatest comeback in New England Patriots' history, that I told myself NEVER, EVER bet against Brady, especially when the opposition is Peyton Manning.

With that in mind, I see the Patriots getting the job done in Denver and earning a spot in Super Bowl 48.

Patriots 31, Broncos 30

Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports

If anyone knows what is at stake on Sunday it's Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

Brady has a chance to go to his sixth Super Bowl if the Patriots beat the Broncos in Denver. Yes, the Broncos are favored, but Brady is a perfect 3-0 when playing the underdog role in the playoffs.

Not only is the Patriots defense playing better than Denvers, the Patriots running game and the rest of the offense is starting to click. If all things were even (which they are not) Denver may have the better team. But Belichick will probably have a better game plan.

Tale of the Tape: Patriots vs. Broncos

The Patriots want to silence the crowd right out of the game, so don't be surprised if they go deep early. It's Brady vs. Manning, and Brady is more clutch.

Patriots 38, Broncos 31

Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports

This matchup has plenty of intrigue when it comes to breaking it down. Of course, it begins and ends with Manning vs. Brady, but will Manning and the Broncos try to exploit the Pats run defense like they did in November, or will it be more if the normal work the ball through the ground and air to all if his weapons?

The Pats pass defense will likely give up some big plays, but needs to continue to force turnovers. Meanwhile, will the Pats continue to be the running machine we've seen down the stretch, led by LeGarrette Blount and the offensive line, or will Brady come out throwing in hopes of exploiting the Chris Harris injury, and because of the success he had in the comeback win in November?

Sports Verdict: Which QB Will Win AFC Championship?

There are lots of reasons to like Denver (home field, Manning, all those offensive weapons) but I won't bet against Belichick and Brady.

Patriots 31, Broncos 28

Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports

I've gone back and forth on this, listened to every person I know, and finally have come up with a conclusion.  Here's the deal.

If this game is a shootout, I fully expect the Broncos to win. Manning will get hot and throw the ball around the park. He'll feel free, his receivers will all run free, and they'll simply beat up the Pats defense. That can't happen and I don't think it will happen.

The Patriots defense will start early, holding up the players at the line and they will get hits on Peyton. I actually feel the Pats defense will have their best game of the season on Sunday.

Read: Levan Reid's Patriots Blog

On offense the Pats will run the ball like they've don't the past month. Once that starts to hurt the Broncos, the Pats will continue to hold the clock hostage.  This game has a chance to be a coming out party for Danny Amenedola; he'll get one-on-one coverage because of the running game and he should flourish.

I was picking Denver when the line came out last weekend but days later I've swayed. I expect the Pats to win a close one, and Brady to become the first quarterback to play in six Super Bowls.

Patriots 35, Broncos 30

Tune in to the AFC Championship game Sunday afternoon at 3 pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV — the flagship stations of the New England Patriots. WBZ-TV will have a special 90-minute edition of Patriots GameDay beginning at 11:30 am, with pregame coverage beginning on 98.5 FM at noon.

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