Patriots vs. Broncos: Rushing Attack Will Carry New England to Super Bowl

David CattaiContributor IIIJanuary 16, 2014

A multi-threat rushing attack will carry New England to the Super Bowl.
A multi-threat rushing attack will carry New England to the Super Bowl.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning.

The Denver Broncos host the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon in the AFC Championship Game, with the winner headed to the Super Bowl.

The storyline is set. Brady will go head to head with Manning for the 15th time during their historic careers with Brady holding the 10-4 advantage, including 2-1 in the playoffs. This time, however, Manning has a stronger, deeper and more talented team.

Who will impact the game? It will actually be a collective group who will be the game's biggest contributors. The New England rushing attack will carry the Patriots to the Super Bowl.

The Patriots do not have a 1,000-yard rusher, but the play of LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley has been the key for New England getting to where they are.

Expect to see head coach Bill Belichick call for Blount to run on early downs. The 6'0", 250-pound running back will be used to pound the Broncos defensive line. The big back does not have blazing speed, but his strength gives him the ability to burst through the front seven into the opponent's secondary.

Calling on Blount throughout the game will wear out the Denver defensive front, enabling Belichick to call on his leading rusher, Stevan Ridley.

Ridley has had issues holding onto the football in the past, but the shifty RB does present a completely different look to defenses. A tired D-Line will not be ready for Ridley speeding towards the outside, which will enable the Patriots to open up their passing game.

The passing game, however, is not about the deep ball like it was in 2007 with Randy Moss, Wes Welker and others.

Brady has Shane Vereen as a primary target in the passing game. Vereen was injured for the majority of the 2013 season.

Vereen gives Brady a good third-down back. The former University of California RB will aid in blocking during the pass game, but he will also be a weapon. The back has 49 receptions in nine games this season (including the playoffs) for 443 yards, which is ranked third on the Patriots.

When Brady was at his best, he was able to spread the field with his receivers. A huge reason was due to having the option to check down to his RB. Vereen provides Brady with that safeguard if needed.

Power, speed and reliability.

That's what Blount, Ridley and Vereen provide when they step onto the field. That's what Belichick can rely on during the game. That's what will carry the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl.