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Kragthorpe: Broncos hope secondary comes to fore vs. Patriots

With Denver defense’s tendency to wobble, it’s all on veteran quarterback Peyton Manning.

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Best player you’ve never heard of

Louis Vasquez, offensive guard. He’s an All-Pro selection as the top performer on a rebuilt line. Manning helps make those guys look good, but they do protect him well.

At a glance

Sunday’s conference title games

O AFC championship

» New England at Denver, 1 p.m., Ch. 2

NFC championship

» San Francisco at Seattle, 4:30 p.m., Ch. 13

Editor’s note

This is the last in a series previewing Sunday’s NFL championship game contestants. Saturday » Denver Broncos

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Local connections

Offensive guard Zane Beadles is from Hillcrest High School and the University of Utah. Beadles has started 62 of 64 regular-season games at guard or tackle since being drafted in the second round in 2010. Denver coach John Fox spent the 1982 season as Utah’s secondary coach during a nomadic career.

Reasons to cheer for them

Denver is the closest NFL team to Salt Lake City, and hundreds of Utahns are season-ticket holders. Manning is the best-known NFL player of his era and one of the top quarterbacks in history, yet he has only one Super Bowl victory. He’s a humble superstar and handled himself wonderfully in defeat last year, waiting a long time to congratulate Baltimore’s Ray Lewis. And the Patriots have played in five Super Bowls since Denver’s last trip.

Reasons to cheer against them

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Because of geography, the Broncos are force-fed to a Salt Lake City television market that tires of them, in some cases. The dosage will only increase if Denver wins another championship.

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