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Broncos win underscores importance of No. 1 seed

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Not long ago, having the top seed in the postseason was viewed as more of a curse than a blessing, with the best regular-season teams routinely losing at home in the postseason. Since 2013, however, winning the top spot in a conference has resulted in a ticket to the Super Bowl for all six teams that have emerged in the pole position after 16 regular-season games.

Sunday’s game between the Broncos and Patriots demonstrated the importance of earning home-field advantage. Few doubt that, if the game had been played at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots easily would have won.

Indeed, a year ago the Broncos knew they’d have to hit the road in the AFC title game against the Patriots, and that apparently played a role in the Broncos not qualifying for it.

“I feel like guys kind of looked over the Colts,” receiver Demaryius Thomas said in a Super Bowl-week visit to PFT Live. “You had guys always talking the night before the game, you had, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go to New England and play New England.’ And I think that was one of the big things.”

This year, New England had to play the Broncos in Denver, where quarterback Tom Brady previously had a record of 2-6 before Sunday. His record there is now 2-7, after the Broncos did what they would have had a much harder time doing in Massachusetts.

Ultimately, the Patriots have only themselves to blame for not hosting the AFC Championship. Even after losing to the Broncos to end a 10-0 streak to start the season, the Patriots needed only to win one of their last two — at the Jets or at the Dolphins — to nail down the top seed. But the team that has owned the AFC East stumbled against both of their division rivals, which reconfirms the importance of taking care of business in their own backyard.

For the other three teams that routinely compete with the Patriots, the back-to-back losses to end the regular season could be the long-awaited opening for a shot at ending New England’s hammerlock on the AFC East. Or maybe the Patriots will be even more determined to parlay 6-0 in the division into being the top dog among the six teams that make it to the playoffs.

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48 Responses to “Broncos win underscores importance of No. 1 seed”
  1. patsrule59 says: Jan 25, 2016 9:08 PM

    What the Broncos win really underscores is the importance of that game the two teams played in November that the refs blatantly stole for Denver.

    Without that act of outright thievery, yesterday’s game would have been in Foxboro, likely with a different outcome.

  2. codysmart says: Jan 25, 2016 9:11 PM

    Yeah, the Patriots might have won at home. But, “easily”? I think the Broncos Defense might take exception to that.

  3. maxkingpin says: Jan 25, 2016 9:15 PM

    As a Bills fan I feel quite sure that NE will take two from Rex Ryan & his brother again in 2016.
    Belichick is twice the coach Ryan will ever be.
    BTW I hate NE.

  4. walker615 says: Jan 25, 2016 9:17 PM

    Easily would have won? Come on, man.

  5. jetsguy1117 says: Jan 25, 2016 9:33 PM

    I’m confused. Would Denvers pass-rushers’ legs just stop working outside of the State of Colorado?

  6. nunezmc says: Jan 25, 2016 9:34 PM

    Note: New England hasn’t won in Miami since 2012.

    That being said, Belicheck fell apart down the stretch this season. Questionable calls against Denver, New York Jets, and Miami. If it weren’t Bill Freaking Belicheck, I think he would be on the hot seat.

  7. truthfactory says: Jan 25, 2016 9:38 PM

    Few doubt that, if the game had been played at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots easily would have won.
    ——

    Thats funny, because before yesterday “few foubted” that the Pats would have won in Denver… But then that little thing called the actual game happened… And all the “experts” were proven clueless.

  8. smash2289 says: Jan 25, 2016 9:38 PM

    Easily won? I guess when the results don’t match pft predictions it’s luck or bad refs. Give some credit to coaches. How about von Miller? He was so fast they only needed 3 rushers and got to Brady all day long

  9. dogfool says: Jan 25, 2016 9:45 PM

    Problem for pats in Denver was weak offensive line that due to crowd noise pats had to use silent snap count. Thus Denver could rush knowing the snap count which most of the time was close to time expiring. This greatly aided Denver speed. At Gillette the pats could have varied the cadence and slowed Denvers speed.
    In any case bellichick arrogance in loosing 4 of 6 and home field really led to this loss. Game plan also was poor!

  10. jchipwood says: Jan 25, 2016 9:48 PM

    Brady has lost the last 3 in miami. And when I say Brady I mean Brady. Brady really can’t throw a football in South Florida the last few years. My guess is Belichick has no way to cheat in Miami.

  11. ptl2323 says: Jan 25, 2016 9:51 PM

    If Pats don’t get home field they don’t win! Thank your lucky stars you play in a terrible division!

  12. bjtodd says: Jan 25, 2016 9:54 PM

    The donkeys won by 2 freaking points, at home, when Bill passed on 2 chippy fg’s. But, the biggest thing was having no snap count deception allowing miller, ware, and co to get some off the best jumps I’ve ever seen in any game. In Gillette, Brady gains the ability to use his cadence and give his underrated O line some much needed help. That easily makes up the 2 points. Manning then faces the crowd noise, it’s most likely in the 20’s temp wise. Easily win is pretty accurate imo. Brady was a warrior yesterday. Not sure how he is considered soft by anyone who actually watches football.

  13. smash2289 says: Jan 25, 2016 10:06 PM

    The calls from pats were the right calls in context of the game. It’s why they win so often and get universally hated. It didn’t work this time but history shows he’s right more than the rest. I’m going to stop now before I throw up in my mouth. Count me as a patriot hater but love to watch bill coach

  14. bleck5 says: Jan 25, 2016 10:11 PM

    ptl2323 says:
    Jan 25, 2016 9:51 PM
    If Pats don’t get home field they don’t win! Thank your lucky stars you play in a terrible division!

    _________
    Except for the fact that their win record is consistently better outside of their division and they always make it to at least the championships? What other team can say the same? The AFC East is actually a respectable division at that as well.

    Like Denver Miami seems to be a house of horrors for Brady for some wierd reason. It doesnt matter how terrble the Dolphins are each year they still beat the Pats there.

    Also people yes. NE would have easily won at home. Since Gillette Stadium was built theyve won more games at home than any other team. They sre something like 53-5 there in the past 5 years.

  15. helixir1 says: Jan 25, 2016 10:11 PM

    Yes it was so worth my Dolphins moving back in the draft to beat up on the pats and seeing them lose home field advantage in he Championship game:)!

  16. getakluwe says: Jan 25, 2016 10:16 PM

    Belichick may just be getting bored and that’s why he’s making these questionable decisions.

    Nonetheless, it’s hard to remember the last time the Pats lost 4 of 6 in any season (maybe ’02 when it looked like the ’01 team was just a fluke–before they systematized the cheating and made it an everyday thing).

  17. tnt2003 says: Jan 25, 2016 10:30 PM

    Few doubt that, if the game had been played at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots easily would have won.
    __________________________________

    Any more excuses?

  18. mr1drful says: Jan 25, 2016 10:35 PM

    Most black people hate Tom Brady. There’s no need to build up Indy because they weren’t relevant this year. It amazes how all the Montana talk comes out when Brady is called the goat. I’ll say this, with jobber receivers (Edelman is a glorified slot machine) I think Brady’s playoff appearances alone is incredible. Montana at 35 had the knees of a 60 year old man. Montana lost his job. Basically, a modern day guy with the success Brady has had gets hated more for his personal life that anything else. Hell, Joe Namath banged pretty women too.

  19. restoreintegritytonfl says: Jan 25, 2016 10:36 PM

    Loved it when the Jets and lowly Dolphins squashed Pats chances in last two weeks of the season. Brady is not afforded the luxury of the voice in the helmet on the road.

    ****

  20. barrymichaels61 says: Jan 25, 2016 10:46 PM

    No excuses, Patriots lost, let’s party! 🙂

  21. restoreintegritytonfl says: Jan 25, 2016 10:47 PM

    So here’s the answer to big question: yes, the pats would have beat the Broncos if played in Foxboro.

    Why? Because Ernie Adams is in the back room telling CryBrady what to do as key plays unfold.

    ****

  22. gurnblanstonreturns says: Jan 25, 2016 10:49 PM

    From past experience I know that this comment will be quickly removed by the PFT censor, but I’ve got to say it. I’m sure it is a solid clickbait tactic, but Florio’s endless brown-nosing to the Patriots is tired and pathetic. The “Patriots easily would have won” at home against the NFL’s #1 defense (DVOA and weighted rankings) and a first ballot Hall of Fame QB? Please.

  23. forsbergler says: Jan 25, 2016 11:05 PM

    It’s only really important if you are the Patriots. Where they can’t win against a decent team unless they are winning at home!

    Once again, they lose to Manning in the AFC Championship on the road. Tom Brady made pre determined passes all night costing them the game.

    Without the cameras and cheat gear in Foxboro, Tom Brady is an Avg QB at best. I’d like to thank Miami for costing NE another SB win by not allowing the AFC to have to come through Foxboro and their rigged gear!

    It will be nice to watch football again without have to listen to obnoxious, ignorant, unintelligent, Pats fans that think they have a clue about football or what constitutes a good team.

    Hope you all enjoyed your QB trying to connect with passes to you “Running” Back for 80% of the night. I guess that’s one way Brady didn’t have to actually drop back and read a defense like a real QB. Spread out your RB and try and hit him on cheese slants and bombs all night in hopes that Denver LB’s had no cover skills. WEAAAAK!!!!!

  24. postintelligence says: Jan 25, 2016 11:10 PM

    EASILY? I doubt it. Probably a better than even chance of pulling out the win in Foxboro, but with the way Wade Phillips game-planned and the Broncos’ D executed on Sunday, it would hardly have been a walk in the park

  25. immafubared says: Jan 25, 2016 11:12 PM

    Especially with Denver. With the thin air it wears you out. I saw a lot of teams run out of gas in the 4th quarter in Denver this year. Plus the NFL game Denver like 5 important home games in a row at home towards the end of the season, ain’t that nice. They got acclimated to the air. Don’t want to here about deflated footballs. How about deflated lungs.

  26. TebowedOutOfThePostSeasonAndNeverToReturn says: Jan 25, 2016 11:19 PM

    When visiting, where do you go to deflate all the game balls? I mean, seriously. How do you know the bathrooms aren’t all bugged? Where do you hide all the pressure gauges? Being on the road is rough.

  27. skunk ape says: Jan 25, 2016 11:19 PM

    The Dolphins went 1-5 in the AFC East and I couldn’t be prouder of that one win.

  28. tonebones says: Jan 25, 2016 11:20 PM

    The Broncos completely manhandled New England. People forget that Ronnie Hillman gave the Patriots a gift TD with his bonehead play. New England couldn’t score. Then Denver stopped trying to score points the entire fourth quarter. I think Denver beats Carolina in a blowout. They were much, much better than New England.

  29. carloswlassiter says: Jan 25, 2016 11:22 PM

    I hate this woulda, could, shoulda stuff. Denver was better, deserved to win, and they did.

    Would things have been different in NE? I have no idea, but to suggest that the game was only in Denver because of the refs in the 1st game out there is ridiculous. NE had multiple chances to sew up home field and lost to a bunch of non-playoff teams down the stretch.

  30. rainmaker1982 says: Jan 25, 2016 11:29 PM

    The bizarre last two weeks of the season was arguably the biggest blunder in Bill Belichick’s career. As a Pats fan, they blatantly dropped both games against the Jets and Dolphins until they realized they were both in reach in the 2nd half. That’s when Brady started throwing.

    People that didn’t watch those games didn’t see Brady repeatedly hand the ball off and hardly throw any passes until the 2nd half. It’s beyond frustrating the starters even played as they treated it like a preseason game.

    With the Pats collapsing and Denver getting the #1 seed by default was the deciding factor. Denver’s home crowd clearly messed up the timing of the Pats offensive tackles as it’s harder to hear the snap count. They were constantly a step behind on the snap of the football. All Ware and Miller had to do was watch the center, pin their ears back and speed rushed the crap out of Brady. Their pass rush looked like a game of Madden playing against the computer.

    Why Bill didn’t want home field is beyond me. Aside from Manning’s 2 TD’s, he really struggled after that and would have really struggled in New England’s cold weather. The Pats got what they wanted and Denver deserves to be in the Super Bowl.

  31. cranespy says: Jan 25, 2016 11:50 PM

    Hats off to the Broncos for am again g defensive performance. Big PATS fan who is afraid the window on Brady is starting to close…we must have upgrades at OL, RB and a true deep threat at receiver. A shutdown corner and depth at ILB are must haves.

  32. kingkreg12 says: Jan 25, 2016 11:52 PM

    Easily may be a stretch, but Denver and Peyton have pretty brutal record in NE, along with the rest of the league. It would not have veeb a lock, but I would bet the Pats would be headed to SF of it had been in NE

  33. kingkreg12 says: Jan 25, 2016 11:53 PM

    Jesus, sorry the English was so badly butchered in the above post.

  34. swagger52 says: Jan 26, 2016 12:03 AM

    Few doubted?

    Tell Flacco that…He beat Brady twice in NE.

    Wow….Such a man crush…

  35. db105 says: Jan 26, 2016 12:04 AM

    jchipwood says:
    Jan 25, 2016 9:48 PM
    Brady has lost the last 3 in miami. And when I say Brady I mean Brady. Brady really can’t throw a football in South Florida the last few years. My guess is Belichick has no way to cheat in Miami.
    ———————————————————————————–
    My guess is that Brady probably has trouble in Miami because the temperatures were probably in 80s or 90s so the footballs were overinflated. It’s basic science but not to the NFL or the common fan.

  36. ranlgon says: Jan 26, 2016 12:14 AM

    lol, you trolls are really funny. It really sucks to win a SB last year and be in the top 4 teams this year. It sucks that it came down to the last few seconds of the game to decide the winner.

    It’s really quite amusing to see you rant and rave. I guess when you are expected to be able to win the SB every year, any loss is considered a great victory by the trolls.

    Denver was the #1 seed playing at home. If they were a great team and Manning is such a great QB, they should be expected to win. Arizona lost by 34 but the Patriots are so terrible because they lost by 2.

    Hopefully Manning and Denver can manage to score more then the 8 points they got in the last SB they appeared in. It would be really embarrasing if they got blown out again.

  37. Bizzareslantpass says: Jan 26, 2016 12:31 AM

    No matter what happens in the Super Bowl, these salty Patriot tears are the best ones yet!

  38. statsjunkie2789 says: Jan 26, 2016 1:12 AM

    yeah, except for those of us who observed the very real parity of the NFL all season.

    I kinda figured both teams had a chance to win the game. Because I have watched a lot of football and that’s often how it works.

  39. noteamforlosangeles says: Jan 26, 2016 2:23 AM

    Bill’s grand plan was to avoid the Steelers at all costs…He succeeded, but it came at the ultimate price. Tanked the game against the Jets just to put them in the driver’s seat to keep the Steelers out. Winners don’t cheat, and cheaters don’t win.

  40. ivanpavlov0000 says: Jan 26, 2016 3:47 AM

    Mile High air in winter is a major home field advantage. But having the #1 defense in the league doesn’t hurt either.

  41. chadsmith013 says: Jan 26, 2016 8:13 AM

    i watched that Pats/Fins game..the pats fully expected the fins to roll over and go away and not put up a fight..boy were they wrong.

  42. youknowiknowitall says: Jan 26, 2016 8:40 AM

    the back-to-back losses to end the regular season could be the long-awaited opening for a shot at ending New England’s hammerlock on the AFC East.
    ——————–
    Or more likely they meant nothing. Anybody who watched those games recognizes that NE was clearly playing to stay healthy for the playoff road ahead and not for the win that day.

  43. hivelocityimpactsplatter says: Jan 26, 2016 9:30 AM

    youknowiknowitall says:
    Jan 26, 2016 8:40 AM
    the back-to-back losses to end the regular season could be the long-awaited opening for a shot at ending New England’s hammerlock on the AFC East.
    ——————–
    Or more likely they meant nothing. Anybody who watched those games recognizes that NE was clearly playing to stay healthy for the playoff road ahead and not for the win that day.
    ****
    How did that work out for you?

  44. zigthepatsfan says: Jan 26, 2016 10:25 AM

    forsbergler says:
    Jan 25, 2016 11:05 PM
    It’s only really important if you are the Patriots. Where they can’t win against a decent team unless they are winning at home!

    Pretty sure all the SBs were not in Foxboro

    But yeah, by far Bill’s worst year of coaching starting with the game vs the Eagles. Just a lot of head scratching moves by him down the stretch and then in this game in Denver. THat was the toughest draw they could have gotten (including the SB match up)and still came up just short. Take the 3 points and they’re probably in the SB yet we hear of their demise yet again…like we hear every year that doesnt end with a LOmbardi

    One of these years you guys will be right lol

  45. solo681 says: Jan 26, 2016 11:20 AM

    Fire Belichick, put Kraft in charge and let’s get Brady a new OLine and some 6’5″ WR’s that can catch the ball and help win the battles.

  46. solo681 says: Jan 26, 2016 11:26 AM

    The best thing for the NFL is for Manning to get blown out again.

    If the Broncos Defense pull the upset against the Panthers e might have to deal with another year of FIVE HEAD in the news.

    Mannings HGH forehead would grow even bigger if he wins the SB. His wife would suddenly need more HGH and Peyton would miraculously rebound for another playoff run.

  47. jjackwagon says: Jan 26, 2016 1:48 PM

    The Broncos held on for a last ditch effort against a Pats team that had ZERO running game. That seems like a bigger issue than home-field advantage. Both the Raiders & Chiefs won in Pile High this season.

  48. fanofpft says: Jan 26, 2016 6:37 PM

    i watched that Pats/Fins game..the pats fully expected the fins to roll over and go away and not put up a fight..boy were they wrong.

    They kept running the ball. Even on third and long. Were they afraid of rookies on defense rushing brady?
    (one did take out Bradford however)

    The fins finished the season 5th Vs the run. Things got better around mid season (around the time the DC was axed)

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