The New England Patriots remain staunch three-point road favorites over the Denver Broncos as both banged up sides squeeze in one more practice before Sunday’s AFC Championship from Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The defending AFC and Super Bowl champion Patriots, who’ve dealt with injuries at every position this season, listed 21 players on their first official injury report and only five have managed to fully participate in practice all week.
Otherwise, key contributors like defensive end Chandler Jones (abdomen/toe), linebackers Jamie Collins (back) and Darius Fleming (back/shin), have all remained limited. As have pass-catching stars Rob Gronkowski (knee/back) and Julian Edelman (foot), who’s looking to make his second straight start after torching the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round for 100 yards.
Despite maintaining home field and already beating New England earlier this season, the top seeded Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning are once again predicted to fall to the Patriots, but health wise they appear far stronger.
Denver listed 11 players on this week’s injury report, however every one has fully practiced, even cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (shoulder), safeties Darian Stewart (hamstring) and T.J. Ward, and linebacker DeMarcus Ware (knee).
Thus far, neither side has ruled out or listed anyone as inactive for the fifth postseason meeting between the AFC’s powers. Denver and Manning took the last showdown back in 2013’s AFC title game, 26-16, and before that New England triumphed in 2011 with 45-10 blowout in the divisional round. Altogether, Denver owns the all-time series at 3-1.
Latest Point Spread: The line opened at -3.5 New England and slid down to -3.
Over/Under: 44.5 points
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS