On Sunday, December 18, we will all bear witness to the 52nd installment of the Broncos vs. Patriots, in what has become one of the great NFL non-division rivalries.
Any fan of these two teams, young or old, has enjoyed relative success over the history of each franchise.
The Denver Broncos became a professional franchise in 1960 (originally playing in the AFL before the league merged with the NFL). Since the team’s inception, they have garnered 22 playoff appearances, 15 Division Championships, 8 Conference Championships, and 3 Super Bowl Championships (with 8 appearances, tied for the most with the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New England Patriots). In 40 seasons since 1975, the team has only relinquished six losing records.
The New England Patriots were also founded in 1960 (Boston Patriots) as an original member of the AFL before the merger 10 years later. Since 1960, the Patriots have 23 playoff appearances, 18 Division Championships, 8 Conference Championships, and 4 Super Bowl Championships (with the aforementioned 8 appearances, tied for most in NFL history). Since 2001, the Patriots have won 12 AFC East division titles in 14 seasons without a single losing campaign during that time.
The similarities and winning ways between the two franchises are uncanny.
As for the head-to-head matchup, the two teams are very competitive, but one could make the argument that the Broncos have been somewhat of the “Achilles Heel” of the Patriots.
In the previous 51 meetings (including five postseason games) the Denver Broncos lead the series 30-21-0. The first game between the two teams was held on September 9, 1960, at Nickerson Field in Boston. The Broncos won that game, 13-10.
In the five postseason meetings the Broncos are 4-1, with two of those four victories earning AFC Championship honors and a trip to the Super Bowl.
The longest winning streak between the two teams is set at 11 games from November 4, 1984 – September 7, 1998, when Broncos quarterback John Elway went 11-0 for his career against the team from the great northeast.
Future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick has a winning record against every NFL team except one. Against the Denver Broncos, his record is 8-9.
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady has a winning record against every NFL team except one. When facing the Denver Broncos, Brady’s record is 6-9. Fun Fact, the great Joe Montana had a losing record against only one NFL team. You guessed it. He was 2-5 against the Broncos.
Since Brady became the starter, he has played every game against the Broncos except for the game in 2008 when Matt Cassel started for the injured Brady. New England won that game 41-7.
During the span of Brady’s reign in New England, the Broncos have fielded eight different starting quarterbacks in the rivalry. Names that include, Brian Griese, Danny Kanell, Jake Plummer, Jay Cutler, Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, and Brock Osweiler. Sunday’s game will mark the ninth different starting quarterback for Denver when Trevor Siemian lines up under center.
Since 2008, the teams have faced 10 times with three of those matchups coming in the playoffs, which has fueled the fire of hatred, and respect that the teams have for one another.
The peak of the rivalry came during the Manning vs. Brady years. The teams went 3-3 during this stretch, but Manning and the Broncos went 2-0 in the games that mattered, the AFC Championship.
Well, now the two historic teams meet again for a showdown at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Patriots (11-2) sit atop the AFC and are poised the win the number one seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. While the defending champion Broncos (8-5) sit at third place in the AFC West and are clinging to the sixth and final playoff spot.
It feels like a must win for Denver and if they have any hope in this contest the defense will have to come up in a big way. The Patriots rank 4th in total offense, 4th in passing offense and 7th in rushing. The Broncos D ranks 3rd overall, 1st against the pass but a lousy 29th against the run. With the offensive struggles that Denver has had, the defense will have to contain the Pats’ rushing attack and get off the field on third down, something they have struggled with as of late.
Every time these two teams line up it has the feeling of a playoff game, none truer than this Sunday.
Mile High will be rocking. The weather will be crisp. The hits will be felt. The Hoodie on one sideline. Kubs on the other. NFL fans of all walks cannot wait for another battle between two stalwarts.