Home » Blog » Breaking Down the Final Four in the AFC

Breaking Down the Final Four in the AFC

Tom Brady

Brady and the Pats should cover at home against the Texans in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.

The American Football Conference playoffs have gone chalk for the most part with Houston and Baltimore winning relatively tough ball games on their respective home-fields. The Ravens didn’t put Andrew Luck and the Colts away until the 4th quarter and then of course that led to the Ray Lewis love fest afterwards. Matt Schaub wasn’t particularly sharp in his first career playoff start giving up a pick-six, but thankfully Andy Dalton was arguably worse in the Texans’ win over Cincinnati.

Both teams now head out on the road in the Divisional Playoffs where more often than not, the best and craziest plays of the post-season usually occur (tuck rule I’m looking at you). The Texans will travel to the northeast where the defending AFC Champion New England Patriots are waiting. It wasn’t too many weeks ago that Houston was throttled at Gillette Stadium 42-14 and the Texans are in no hurry to see a repeat of that.

Baltimore heads to Denver where the 13-3 Broncos are rested and ready for battle. The Ravens already know they gave up 34 points just a couple of weeks ago to the Broncos in M&T Bank Stadium and now have to slow down Peyton Manning while trying to score points of their own. It will be an incredible environment in Denver that’s for sure.

Peyton Manning

I like Manning's success against Baltimore to continue this weekend.

Baltimore (+10) at Denver – The Ravens have lost nine straight games to Peyton Manning dating back to 2001. Manning also completes about 68% of his passes against Baltimore as well. Factor in the injuries to the Ravens’ secondary and limited pass rush and you could have the makings for another Manning victory. I look for Denver to stay as balanced as possible offensively in an effort to set up Manning in play-action where is one of the all-time greats. Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee will combine to keep the Ravens’ D at bay.

The Ravens are 6-0 this season when Joe Flacco doesn’t throw an interception. His last one came against these Broncos and was returned 98 yards for a touchdown. Keeping Flacco upright and allowing him time to read his progressions will go a long way towards making that record 7-0 but it won’t be easy. What Baltimore has to do offensively is put the game in Ray Rice’s hands, although after two fumbles against Indy that might not be so easy. Point being, they cannot rely solely on the pass versus Denver’s league-leading sackers and veteran defensive backs.

Baltimore will play hard as they always do but I can’t see them scoring with Denver and Peyton Manning will put up at least 24 points. I thin the Ravens make it interesting and will cover, but the Broncos will win and advance to the AFC Title Game.

Houston (+10) at New England – The Patriots lead the brief all-time series 3-1 dating back to 2003 and will have plenty of recent tape on a Texans’ team they dismantled not long ago. There were several opportunities for Andy Dalton last week against the Texans’ secondary that he missed on but Tom Brady won’t and that’s a big concern for me if I’m Gary Kubiak. J.J. Watt can only do so much and as we see in their recent meeting, he was rendered pretty ineffective by the Bill Belichick game plan. Wade Phillips will need to counter that but a the same time he needs to make sure that his defense does not give up too much on the ground either.

The Texans cannot afford to be one dimensional and rely too much on Arian Foster. The rub is that putting too much of the game on the shoulders of Matt Schaub might be asking too much as well. Schaub has struggled in recent weeks and this is the type og game where he may need to take some shots downfield.

This one will be closer than the first meeting, but I still like New England and I like them to cover at home.


  • 100%