AFC Championship Game 2016: Injury Report, Predictions for Patriots vs. Broncos

Justin NeumanContributor IIJanuary 24, 2016

FILE - At left, in an Oct. 23, 2014, file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning calls a play against the San Diego Chargers during an NFL football game in Denver. At right, in a Sept. 29, 2014, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady points on the line of scrimmage during an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo. New England has little time to savor its fourth straight win, a 51-23 pounding of the Chicago Bears. Tom Brady versus Brock Osweiler just doesn't have the same Hall of Fame ring to it. Still, when Brady leads his undefeated Patriots into Denver on Sunday night, Nov. 29, 2015 the game will have plenty of significance. (AP Photo/File)
Uncredited/Associated Press

Stop us if you've heard this before, but Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will face off in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.

The latest iteration will pit Brady's New England Patriots against Manning's Denver Broncos with a trip to Super Bowl 50 on the line. The game will kick off at 3:05 p.m. ET, and you can catch it on CBS.

One thing viewers always look at leading up to a game is the injury report. As we all know, an injury to a key player can have a profound effect on the game's outcome. With that in mind, let's take a look at the injury reports for both the Patriots and Broncos.

The visiting Patriots list 21 players on their injury report, including huge names such as Brady (ankle) and Rob Gronkowski (knee, back). However, it's inconceivable that Brady would miss the contest, and unless Gronkowski has a freak accident in the hours leading up to the game, he'll suit up as well.

The Patriots list offensive linemen Tre' Jackson (knee) and LaAdrian Waddle (shoulder) as out, and other key role players such as Julian Edelman (foot), Jamie Collins (back) and Danny Amendola (knee) are questionable.

All of the players who are questionable were limited in Friday's practice. However, when it comes to Collins, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported the linebacker is "good to go" for Sunday's game. 

We will see how the injuries play out once the game starts, but expect everyone to give it a go with a Super Bowl trip on the line.

On the other side, the Broncos are largely healthy. Of the 12 players on their injury report—which includes Manning (foot) and Brock Osweiler (knee)—all are probable. Only cornerback Bradley Roby (quad) was limited in Friday's practice as everyone else participated fully.

With that out of the way, let's break down the matchup. Based on recent performance, the Patriots seem to have the edge.

The Broncos did not look strong last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and had Antonio Brown (concussion) been healthy, the outcome may have been different. But the Broncos won, so here they are.

Manning threw for only 222 yards against the Steelers, and it seems as though he doesn't even consider throwing deep these days. Head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots are as good as anyone else at taking away what the opposition does best, so look for the New England defenders to sit on short routes and force Manning to push the ball downfield.

Brady has been more trustworthy in the playoffs, and as Manning continues to look more and more like his game is on the decline, the combination of Brady and Gronkowski should propel the Patriots to their second consecutive Super Bowl.

Prediction: Patriots win, 24-16.