Now that we know all four participants in the NFL's conference championship games, it's time to start discussing the matchups. Clearly, the one with the most history is the Patriots-Broncos (kickoff at 3 p.m. Eastern this coming Sunday).
Historically, the Mile High City is a terrible host to the Patriots, who have extreme difficulty winning in that environment, but ESPNBoston.com lists several reasons why the Patriots can beat the Broncos in Denver in the AFC Championship Game.
The folks in Las Vegas who make a living wagering on games say the Patriots and Panthers are the favorites to meet in San Francisco for Super Bowl 50, as ESPNBoston.com details.
A Boston Herald columnist agrees, at least with the AFC part of the equation, saying New England will be too much for Denver to handle on Sunday.
"With Tom Brady once again having Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola together on the field, and being able to go back to the type of offense that was so effective the first few months of the season, no way Peyton Manning will be able to keep up. No chance," the writer predicts boldly.
The *Herald *also has some immediate reaction from the Broncos about having to face the Patriots a second time this season.
"It's a going to be a dogfight," Broncos cornerback Chris Harris said. "New England knows we already beat them, and they know what they're getting into coming here. They feel like they're full strength now and we're full strength - kind of full strength. But Brady versus Peyton, it's always going to be a huge game."
However, a CSNNE.com opinion piece cautions that the Patriots and their fans shouldn't be overconfident about winning in Denver.
"Tom Brady beats everyone everywhere, with two notable exceptions: Miami in Miami and Denver in Denver," the writer points out. "The Pats are 2-6 lifetime in Denver with Brady under center, having beaten only Tim Tebow in 2011 and Danny Kanell in 2003 (when Lonie Paxton chucked the ball off the upright). They've lost in Denver to such luminaries as Brian Griese, Jake Plummer (twice), Kyle Orton and Brock Osweiler."
CSNNE.com also recaps Brady's initial reaction to having to face the Broncos again, during TB12's appearance on Boston radio airwaves this morning.
In The Providence Journal, a columnists declares that it's only fitting that New England must face the Broncos in Denver to return to the Super Bowl.
"What Waterloo was to Napoleon, Denver is to Brady," the piece says in part.
Out in Colorado, the feeling in the Denver Post is that Denver must play better than it did yesterday against Pittsburgh to beat New England this weekend.
"We have to fix those mistakes [against Pittsburgh] and just keep working," DE Malik Jackson said. "But I think this defense thrives under pressure, and the Patriots will sure pressure us."
Finally, back here in New England, WEEI.com offers 5 Early Thoughts on the Patriots-Broncos AFC title tilt.