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AFC Divisional Round: Broncos, Patriots Sit as Odds Favorites

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The Denver Broncos will have Peyton Manning at the helm when they host the injury-riddled Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday afternoon’s AFC Divisional Playoff matchup as 6.5-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by

Manning will be making his first start since being sidelined with a foot injury in a 29-13 loss to Kansas City back in Week 10.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback took over in relief of Brock Osweiler in Denver’s regular-season finale, leading the club to a 27-20 win over San Diego, and clinching the No. 1 seed in the conference heading into Sunday afternoon’s Steelers vs. Broncos betting matchup at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The Broncos battled inconsistency down the stretch, winning just two of their last four contests, and have been a massive betting disappointment since early November, tallying just two ATS wins in their past nine games according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

Point production has been a major concern for Denver, who have scored 20 or fewer points in five of their past eight games but enter the postseason with the NFL’s leading defense, holding opponents to a stingy 283.1 total yards per game.

The Steelers head west after claiming an 18-16 Wild Card victory over Cincinnati, but at a high cost, with pivot Ben Roethlisberger and receiver Antonio Brown both suffering injuries.

The status of both remains questionable midweek, and has dramatically impacted the betting line for Sunday’s contest with the spread steadily moving in Denver’s favor after they opened as slim 2.5-point chalk. Pittsburgh came out on top with a 34-27 home victory over the Broncos in Week 15 but are 1-3 SU in their last four visits to Denver

In Saturday’s AFC Divisional Playoff matchup, the Kansas City Chiefs will be gunning for a 12th straight SU win when they visit the New England Patriots as 5.5-point betting underdogs.

The Chiefs are riding high following a stunning 30-0 rout of the Houston Texans on Wild Card Weekend, and will hit the gridiron at Gillette Stadium as betting underdogs for the first time in their last nine games.

The Patriots will be looking to halt the two-game SU losing skid that cost them the No. 1 seed in the conference. However, New England has proven to be a reliable bet at home this season, going a respectable 4-1-3 ATS, covering as big 14-point chalk in their last home contest, a 33-16 rout of the Tennessee Titans in Week 15.

Bennett doesn’t fear backlash for skipping White House trip


HOUSTON (AP) Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett says he is not worried about upsetting team owner Robert Kraft by not attending New England’s trip to the White House as Super Bowl champions.

Bennett said after the Patriots’ 34-28 win over the Falcons on Sunday night that he’s “not going to go” to the traditional meet-and-greet with the president. It will be the first visit of a Super Bowl champion to Washington since Donald Trump was sworn into office.

Trump’s positions have alienated some athletes, which has raised questions about whether some might choose to skip the trip while the new president is in office.

But Bennett said he isn’t concerned about it and thinks the team believes “in whatever I want to do.”

Kraft is a supporter of Trump and attended a celebration dinner in Washington for him the night before his inauguration.

Patriots’ Tom Brady earns 4th Super Bowl MVP trophy with epic comeback


HOUSTON (AP) The greatest quarterback in NFL history led the biggest Super Bowl comeback to be the MVP on Sunday night.

Tom Brady rallied New England from a 25-point third-quarter deficit for a 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history to earn his fifth Super Bowl title and fourth MVP trophy.

“They’re all sweet,” he said. “They’re all different and this was just an incredible team and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” he said.

Brady threw touchdown passes of 5 and 6 yards in the second half and tied things at 28-28 when he connected withDanny Amendola on a 2-point conversion with 57 seconds left.

He then directed the drive in overtime which ended with a 2-yard run by James White to make the Patriots the first team to win a Super Bowl after trailing by more than 10 points.

“We all brought each other back,” he said. “We never felt out of it. It was a tough battle.”

His performance certainly wasn’t without its struggles. His incredible second half and overtime came after a first half where the Patriots managed just three points and he threw an interception which Robert Alford returned 82 yards for a touchdown. He was hurried and harassed for much of the games. The Falcons sacked him five times and hit him on another eight occasions.

He noted the beating he took when he was trying to recount the details of the comeback and couldn’t remember what the score was at one point in the rally.

“There was a lot of (stuff) that happened tonight,” he said. “I got hit pretty hard.”

His 466 yards passing are a Super Bowl record, surpassing the 414 yards Kurt Warner had 17 years ago. He also set a record for most passes completed in a Super Bowl with 43 and most attempts with 62.

He is the first to play in seven Super Bowls and the victory ties him with Charles Haley for most Super Bowl rings.

After all Brady has done in his career, was this his finest moment?

“Tom’s had a lot of great ones,” coach Bill Belichick said. “But, yeah tonight was one of them.”

It’s a triumphant end to a difficult season for Brady, who missed the first four games because of his “Deflategate” suspension and dealt with his mother Galynn Brady suffering through an undisclosed illness. The Super Bowl was the first game she’s attended all season.

“They’re all happy,” he said fighting back tears. “It’s nice to have everybody here and it’s going to be a great celebration tonight.”

He shared a quick moment with her right after the game, but was looking forward to more time with her in the upcoming days.

“It’s kind of madness after the game so I didn’t get much quality time with her but we’ll get it this week,” he said.

But he certainly wasn’t asking for sympathy for his rough road to this title though, chuckling when someone asked about the adversity the Patriots have gone through in the past couple of years.

“We’ve done pretty good over the last few years … so I don’t think anyone’s feeling bad for the Patriots,” he said. “I don’t think anyone feels bad for the Patriots.”

Brady also collected the MVP trophy in 2001, 2003 and 2014.

“It was just a lot of mental toughness by our team and we’re going to remember this one for the rest of our lives,” Brady said.

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