When a pair of former AFC West rivals get together in the place where a pair of New York teams play their home games, the Broncos will have to bring a level of aggression that reflects current life in the conference to which Seattle moved more than a decade ago.
The Seahawks have brought a hard-hitting, rough-and-tumble style to the NFC, forcing other teams that hope to compete with Seattle match the physicality. The 49ers tried, but ultimately failed, on Sunday. The Broncos now have to do the same thing.
After Sunday’s NFC title game, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports explained that, the night before the AFC title game, receiver Wes Welker talked to the team about the importance of physical play the rest of the way. A montage of big hits from various Broncos players also was shown.
It worked on Sunday, to the chagrin of Bill Belichick. The question now becomes whether it will work in 13 days, as the Seahawks and Broncos get together in MetLife Stadium for an old-school game played in what could be old-school conditions. (The betting public seems to think the Broncos will be able to get it done, given that they currently are one-point favorites.)
As the next two weeks unfold, it’ll be interesting to see how much is said publicly about delivering big hits. Given the bounty scandal of 2012, there’s a fine line between spontaneous roughness and intent to injure.
Look for the league to be listening carefully. It thus would be wise for the teams to tread lightly.
Until the game starts, that is.