6 Things To Look Out For In Tonight's NFL Games

6 Things To Look Out For In Tonight's NFL Games
Donny Mahoney
By Donny Mahoney
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What happens the first time the Broncos tackle Gronk?

A serious amount of trash has been talked ahead of the AFC final, most of it coming from Denver. Tom Brady has been vilified as a 'crybaby' and the Broncos secondary have spoken candidly about taking out Gronk's knees. How the Broncos D bring down Gronkowski after his first reception will likely set the down for the entire game. Considering Gronk only barely avoided cruciate surgery in the first meeting between the two teams, expect an air of tension any time Brady throws in #87's direction.

Will the Broncos pass rush be able to get to Brady?

Denver's defense is pretty fearsome, especially up front where the likes of Demarcus Ware and Von Miller eat offensive linemen for lunch. Given how shaky the Patriots O-line was down the stretch, and given how the Patriots basically forgot to bring their running game to last week's game against Kansas City, and given the offensive liabilities of Peyton Manning, Denver's defense need to get to Brady and get to him fast if the Broncos are going to stand a chance tonight. Denver has been a graveyard for the Patriots in the past, and if the pocket is collapsing, those old ghosts might start to circulate around Mile High.

Exactly how shit is Peyton Manning going to be?


We saw just how bad Manning last week: definitely bad, but not terrible. He didn't throw any interceptions and on the most important drive of the game, made a couple massive completions. Manning is a shell of himself, but his mind is all there. Will he melt down today or manage his way through another minefield. Time waits for no man, and if age doesn't catch up with him tonight, it will surely be there waiting for him in Santa Clara.


Just how wintery will it be in Charlotte?

The weathermen have the game temperatures in Denver and Charlotte as roughly the same. Yet Charlotte caught the beginning of Storm Jonas. This Cardinals team is not built for winter football. They are borne out of the desert. They have a 36-year-old quarterback playing the biggest game of his career. Arizona does not need nature conspiring against them: their task is steep enough.

Will the Panthers be able to close?

After their bombastic first half against Seattle last week, neutrals finally accepted that the Carolina Panthers are pretty decent. We know Cam will put up at least 28 points on the Arizona D. The issue will be can the Carolina defense stay interested if the Panthers go up big early. Both Seattle last week and the Giants in Week 16 clawed back huge deficits and nearly stole games from Carolina. A fast start from Carolina could be the worst possible thing for them.


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