Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning 2014

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The Denver Broncos looked quite impressive Thursday evening as they defeated the upstart San Diego Chargers 35-21 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.  Quarterback Peyton Manning, coming off his career passing touchdown record breaking game against the San Francisco 49ers just four days prior, threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns as he led the Broncos to a victory over their divisional foes.  The Chargers began the season at 5-1 and were in first place of the AFC West for a time, but have now dropped two in a row and trail the Broncos by a game and a half.

Fans and experts alike probably deemed the Broncos the team to beat after their Thursday night win, but their upcoming opponent sure made a statement Sunday afternoon that they will not be toppled easily.  The New England Patriots put together a world-class beat down of the Chicago Bears.  The Patriots scored 31 points in the second quarter and took a 38-7 lead entering the half.  They would score again on the opening possession of the second half, taking a commanding 45-7 lead.  Tom Brady threw for five touchdowns and 354 yards, finding tight end Rob Gronkowski for 149 of those yards and three touchdowns. Gronk looked like his vintage self, barreling over defenders in the open field and gently tapping down his toes in the corners of the end zone.

It was a remarkable victory for New England and one that certainly put Denver on notice as we head to their Week 9 showdown in Foxboro.  The Broncos sit at 6-1, the best record in the AFC, but the Patriots are right on their tail at 6-2 having won four straight since their brutal 41-14 Monday Night loss to Kansas City.

Denver vs. New England figures to be the matchup of the week and fans are willingly paying a premium for tickets to the game. Broncos vs. Patriots tickets currently have a median ticket price of $376, the highest mark for any game this week. It will be the national game of the week, taking place at 4:25 pm EST and airing on CBS.

New England looked all but lost after their Week 4 loss to Kansas City with the offense in shambles and the defense not playing well enough to keep the game competitive.  Much has changed since then, however, with Brady and Gronkowski carrying the offense to levels not seen at Gillette Stadium since the Gronkowski-Aaron Hernandez combo was so deadly a few years past. Nonetheless, Manning has looked nearly perfect through seven games this season and if the Patriots lose in a convincing fashion this Sunday, many will believe these past four weeks were nothing more than a mirage.

The Broncos are currently 3.5 point favorites so Vegas expects a tight, high-scoring game.  The key may ultimately come down to which defense can hold their opponents to field goals and limit the bleeding as best as possible.  If New England can maintain their current offensive dominance and give Manning just enough difficulty to hold off the Denver aerial attack, there may be a new Super Bowl favorite in the conference.

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