For the AFC Championship Game, our "ultimate fan" is none other than Mr. Unfinished Business himself - mdierk - and he believes the Broncos will take care of business this weekend. A long-time Broncos fan, mdierk is hoping to see a whole lot of his favorite player, Derek Wolfe, in this game as the Denver defense aims to pin Tom Brady on his back all day long. And that's what it's going to take to beat this formidable Patriots team. Well, that and probably a few TDs.
But don't worry, mdierk will make sure NOT to fix his bad omen chili for this game, which should give our Broncos a little extra boost in the good luck department.
Can't wait. pic.twitter.com/ycNmXo3Ubo— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 20, 2016
Denver v. New England
MHR - The running game struggled early on and then caught a little fire against the Steelers. How important do you think the run game will be for the Broncos this weekend? What pass-to-run ratio would you like to see?
mdierk: The running game will be huge and Denver wouldn't be in this game without it. If the Pats are content in passing the ball, the chances of their offense staying on the field for long periods of time could be low. Kansas City held onto the ball longer last week and they did wear down the defense, but management of the clock was not there for the Chiefs. I would prefer a 50/50 ratio if at all possible, if Denver gets behind though, ratio won't matter.
MHR - Receivers last week couldn't catch the ball if it were handed to them. Was that an anomaly or a culmination of something we've seen quite a bit of all season in different games? What do you expect to see this weekend from our WRs?
mdierk: They all have had drops all year. I'm sure Kubiak and Manning got into their collective ears about it too. At this point, I think it's mental. They train on the juggs machine, practice all year, wear special gloves and all. If they drop balls like last week, it won't go well. I expect more concentration from the receivers this game.
MHR - Peyton Manning wasn't spectacular, but he was effective against the Steelers. Will this formula be enough to outscore what the Patriots are able to do against the Broncos' defense?
mdierk: It will have to be. I won't expect him to try to shootout with Brady in this game. If this is a shootout, that means the defense failed big time. He is not the 2013 Peyton we knew, but his protection of the ball last week went a long way in securing the win. This offense will have to have some long TD drives and he will have to make enough throws to keep the Pats D honest.
"Consistency.. skills.. I would never, ever, ever, underestimate him under any circumstances." -Belichick on Peyton https://t.co/upjWif6uXD— NFL (@NFL) January 20, 2016
MHR - Manning has faced Belichick and the Patriots many times, but is there any advantage for the Broncos that in the regular season game against the Pats, Oz was the starter and not Manning?
mdierk: Oz kept the Pats honest with the threat of his legs, but the delayed blitz was killing him. Manning passes quick so delayed blitzes will not be seen much. While the Pats won't cover as much deep, Manning can at least adjust on the fly and check into the best play.
MHR - What kind of offensive game plan would you like to see out of Kubiak to best match the defensive trickery BB will likely come up with?
mdierk: I would start with more stretch running to make the LBs cover more space and get the TE involved more. If the TE is making plays, it softens up the rest of the defense for a deep ball or a solid gain on the ground.
MHR - What offensive stat would you like to see be awesome for the Broncos in this game?
mdierk: I have two stats. 3rd down conversion and first downs. The higher the conversion rate, the more first downs you have. More first downs mean less time for Brady.
MHR - Which player do you expect to stand out from the Broncos offense this Sunday?
mdierk: Demaryius Thomas. He was so awful and would not fight for the ball last time. I don't know if the weather was so bad that he wasn't into it or something else was going on. I saw a fire in him late last week that hopefully will continue this week.
MHR - The NFL's No. 1 defense allowed one of the NFL's top passing offenses only one touchdown and very few third-down conversions last week, despite often giving up a big play. Did you like Wade Phillips approach to the Steelers and why/why not?
mdierk: I like the approach at times, but those huge plays could have easily been backbreakers. Brady is more surgical so getting the stop quick is more crucial.
I'd like to, but I've watched four Patriots games & crunched the numbers, and w/ Edelman & Gronk, they're scary. https://t.co/iK9HbZyY3x— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) January 20, 2016
MHR - No matter what the rankings say, facing Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman has got to be one of the toughest offenses for this group to play. What should our defensive game plan be for...
- Getting to Brady, who has a very quick release? The interior DL must push and collapse the pocket. The less he slides in the pocket, the better. If they can't get there, they must get their hands up to bat the ball away. The more chances of a tipped pass, the better chance of a pick.
- Covering Gronk? I don't know if there is a good way to cover Gronk. I see a lot of double teams, but he will get some yards.
- Handling Edelman and Amendola? Put the fastest DBs on them and find ways to rough them up (within the rules). If they run free, they can cause a ton of damage.
MHR - How much of a blow is it to our game plan that Chris Harris Jr. is injured (even if he says he feels better)
mdierk: Before Tuesday's news, I would have said it's a huge blow, but I don't see a major impact in this game. We will see soon enough against Edelman.
MHR - What defensive stat would you like to see be awesome for the Broncos in this game?
mdierk: 3rd down conversion. The lower, the better. It would tell me that they were getting off the field and preventing the points. Another stat would be QB hits. The more they hit Brady, the better.
MHR - Which player do you expect to stand out from the Broncos defense this Sunday?
mdierk: That is a tough one. If I had one, I guess I would pick Derek Wolfe. His penetration and hits on Brady could prove huge. Malik Jackson would be a very close second.
MHR - Brandon McManus was back to his McMoney ways last weekend. What are the chances the game comes down to him again, and how would you feel about it if they did?
mdierk: I think the chances are quite high if the offense can't muster more than one TD. He was called on a lot last week, and he came through. I hope he will kick a lot with extra points and kickoffs this week, but it may come to one kick to move on.
MHR - Special teams played a big role in some key plays last weekend. What do you hope to see from them this week against the Pats?
mdierk: I would love to see more of the same. Their play was the major reason for the divisional round win. Whatever Britton Colquitt did last week, I hope he will do the same routine as last week.
MHR - In many ways, this game is a coaching match-up too. How confident are you in Kubes' game-planning versus Bill Belichick's? What about Josh McDaniels v. Wade Phillips?
mdierk: Since Belichick has seen it all, I don't see Kubes doing anything to fool him much. Now McDaniels vs Wade, Wade will just have the DL pin their ears back and race to hit Brady.
MHR - The trash-talking between players and fans started immediately. Do you think this will be a distraction or motivation, or nothing at all?
mdierk: I don't think it amounts to anything. The players talk a lot more and much worse on the field. If they still need bulletin board material at this level, then they have a screw loose. As for fans trash talking, the game involves a team from Boston. Nothing else needs said. I generally refrain from it, since it's better to hear silence from the opposition when the good guys win.
MHR - Most important question - What are the odds Whorfin doesn't get to wash "The Shirt" until next season?
mdierk: At best 50-50. I'm not good on that kind of prediction. (*editor's note: I'll help you out...100-0, right Directorate of Homerism?)
Patriots & Broncos rank No. 1 and 2 in the NFL in wins during the last 5 yrs. Only teams to win 70%+ of their games. pic.twitter.com/4iSlhqfvc5— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) January 18, 2016
Stats for Manning? 30 passes, 250 yards, 1 TD, 0 picks.
Number of yards rushing for the Broncos? 180
Which receiver gets the most yards? Demaryius Thomas - 6 catches, 90 yards, 1TD
Which running back gets the most? C.J. Anderson
Number of sacks to Manning? 2
Number of sacks on Tom Br*dy? 6
Broncos player with the most sacks? Malik Jackson
Broncos player with the most tackles? Brandon Marshall
Number of penalties? Broncos, 7; Patriots, 8
Number of field goals/longest by McManus? Four, 52 yards
26 - 23 Broncos
- Favorite Broncos game against the Patriots? It's tough to pick just one. In Foxboro, it was the 1996 game where Shannon Sharpe called for the National Guard. In Denver, the last game was great, but the 2005 playoff game where Brady received his first playoff loss was awesome.
- Team you hate to lose to the most? Chiefs and Raiders
- Team you love to beat the most? Chiefs, many friends and family are Chiefs fans so I enjoy their misery.
- Team you could root for if you had to? If I had to and Denver was eliminated, then I guess the Cardinals would be it.
- Favorite Broncos game EVER? Super Bowl 32, the first championship is always the most special.
- Favorite Broncos jersey combo? Orange jersey, white pants.
- Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Derek Wolfe, he disrupts everything and other teams fear him.
- Favorite Broncos player of all time? John Elway, he was amazing as a player and is shrewd as a GM.
- Superstitions on game day? I don't have a major superstition, but I did ban a food to be served on game day. I used to have a homemade chili using venison or elk burger. The first game I cooked up this in the crock pot was the Baltimore playoff game where they were Vinoviched, the second time was Super Bowl 48. Thanks to those traumatic games, chili has been banned ever since on game day.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
I became a Broncos fan in the early 80s. I grew up in southwest Kansas where the driving distance to Kansas City was equal to Denver. My brother had to have a surgery in Denver and my folks brought back a No. 7 jersey, and I wore it all the time. An added plus was my family would come to Colorado and northern New Mexico to camp for a week in the summers. I was taken with the mountains, and to me, the Broncos are Colorado. By that time, the Broncos were contenders, and I was as rabid a fan then as I am now. Many people ask me why I didn't become a Chiefs fan. My answer every time is, "I know better."