The New England Patriots continually defy an NFL system that’s designed for the sharing of success. They’re in the AFC championship game for the eighth time in 13 seasons, a run of high-level consistency that may never be matched — although the Patriots may add to it in the coming years.
In advance of Sunday’s game at Denver, a look at the Patriots:
This is the third in a series previewing Sunday’s NFL championship game contestants. Friday » New England Patriots
NFL title games
» New England at Denver, 1 p.m.
» San Francisco at Seattle, 4:30 p.m.
With coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady as the constants, the Patriots keep reinventing themselves and making the playoffs, seeking a sixth Super Bowl appearance in this century.
How they got here
The Patriots went 12-4 to earn the AFC’s No. 2 seed and beat Indianapolis 43-22 in a divisional playoff game.
Super Bowl-bound if
New England can run the ball much better than San Diego did against Denver last weekend and if Brady can do to the Broncos’ secondary what Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen did in the fourth quarter of that game.
The Patriots’ offensive line fails to protect Brady. San Diego allowed four sacks of Rivers, preventing its offense from getting into a rhythm before it was too late.
The basic premise is that New England’s No. 26-ranked defense will give up a bunch of points and ask a lot of the offense. But the Patriots allowed only seven points in the second half after falling behind 24-0 in a November game with Denver, making an overtime victory possible. That kind of performance would give New England a great shot at an upset.
Brady. It’s true that New England produced six rushing touchdowns against Indianapolis as LeGarrette Blount rushed for 166 yards and four scores, but this team will rely on Brady and his unheralded cast of receivers.
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