The beautiful one
1 He wears Uggs and models for cologne ads. He's Eric Decker with three Super Bowl rings. His wife pulls in more than he does. Women love him; men envy him; defenses fear him. He's the one who is the biggest threat to the Broncos advancing to the Super Bowl. If only Tom Brady could figure out why he was voted the NFL's least-liked quarterback in a recent poll. "Really?" Brady said. That's what I thought, Tommy. He seems quite likable, actually. Regardless, Brady is the Broncos' problem on Sunday. Forget that the Patriots reached the AFC title game with a powerful running game. I expect that M.O. changes against the Broncos, whose weakness is in the secondary. In their first meeting, the Broncos lost Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for the second half. Brady attacked his replacement, rookie cornerback Kayvon Webster. This time around, the Broncos are without Chris Harris. Look for Brady to attack his replacement, whether it's Champ Bailey, Tony Carter, Quentin Jammer, or a combo of all three. "He's an accurate passer of the football," Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said, understating the matter. Back to Brady. He thinks the Patriots are the "underdog" in Sunday's matchup. Point spreads aside, as long as Brady is the quarterback, the Pats should never be considered an underdog.
Take a bow, Phil Simms
2 Your mission, Broncos Country, if you choose to accept it: mentally prepare for Phil Simms. Aside from Peyton Manning pitching Papa John's pizzas during commercial breaks, there's one constant when Simms, the CBS analyst, calls a Patriots game: the narrative will be woe-is-the Patriots. They lost this guy. They lost that guy. Someone kicked Bill Belichick's puppy. Just wait, it will happen: Simms' CBS broadcast team will lament how the Patriots are overcoming all odds. Yet there will be no mention the Patriots were the ones who drafted a prospect with character issues and a history of violence - and then gave Aaron Hernandez a $40 million contract. In fact, on defense, the injury situations of the Broncos and Patriots are quite similar. The Patriots lost defensive tackle Vince Wilfork (the Broncos lost Kevin Vickerson and Derek Wolfe). The Pats lost Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo (Von Miller). The Pats' secondary is intact; the Broncos' secondary is without Chris Harris and Rahim Moore, after going weeks without Champ Bailey. But the narrative is woe-is-the Pats? There's a silver lining to the media's convenient, wrong analysis. The Broncos are 6-0 when Simms is on the call. "Undefeated?" he said. "That's not by my name very often, so I don't know what to do with that." Bury the false narratives, for one.
Air it out
3 If you hit the driver 300 yards off the tee, splitting the fairway, why pull out the 3-iron? If your car runs fine on premium unleaded, why drop to the cheap stuff? If you look great in a three-piece suit, why wear shorts? To beat the Patriots and advance to Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos must stick to what got them to the AFC title game. Air it out. Take a seat aboard the 18th Airborne. Tee it high and let it fly. The passing game got them to this point, and the Broncos should spread out the Patriots and force the visitors to keep up. For the Broncos to win, this needs to be, in NBA terms, George Karl's Nuggets against the Eastern Conference. Run and gun until the Pats aren't having fun. The Broncos have their full contingent of scoring weapons - unlike the matchup in Foxboro, when tight end Julius Thomas wasn't available. "Going into the first game, we didn't know if he would be playing or wouldn't be playing, so we studied him a lot for that game, too," Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. Studying is one thing. Actually dealing with Orange Julius is another. The former college basketball player is the X-factor Sunday. "It's like Shannon (Sharpe)," Broncos executive John Elway said. "Who is going to cover Shannon? A corner? Or do you cover him with a safety or a linebacker? The matchups were always favorable." The Broncos' offense is the best in NFL history. That won't change Sunday. The Patriots can't keep up.