Who you got in a fight be­tween the Pa­tri­ots’ Tom Brady and Bron­cos’ Aqib Talib?

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - Colum­nist Mark Kis­zla and NFL reporter Nicki Jhab­vala de­bate

Kiz: I’m anx­iously await­ing the steel-cage match be­tween Bron­cos cor­ner­back Aqib Talib and Dirty Harry Dou­glas of Ten­nessee af­ter the NFL sea­son is over. Stop by for brats and beer at my house if the bout is on pay-per-view. But the Bron­cos are fight­ing for their play­off lives right now. Talib and the Den­ver sec­ondary must find a way to slow down age­less New Eng­land quar­ter­back Tom Brady. Who has the ad­van­tage?

Jhab­vala: You got me all ex­cited for beer and brats and now you want me to an­swer se­ri­ously? I’m pick­ing the Bron­cos’ sec­ondary. They de­feated the Pa­tri­ots twice last sea­son (in­clud­ing the AFC ti­tle game) and held him to fewer than 300 yards in each out­ing while de­flect­ing 16 to­tal passes and in­ter­cept­ing two. It can be done again. The big­ger is­sue will be the Bron­cos’ run de­fense, which held New Eng­land to 39 and 44 yards in those two games. The run de­fense has been leaky all sea­son and will be with­out both start­ing in­side lineback­ers, Todd Davis (oblique) and Bran­don Mar­shall (ham­string).

Kiz: I ad­mit it. I was late to the party toast­ing Brady as one of the top five quar­ter­backs of all time. Hey, I do not feel the need to apol­o­gize for ad­mir­ing Joe Mon­tana, Otto Gra­ham and Johnny Uni­tas. But, at age 39, Brady is play­ing like the MVP, and if he wins his fifth Su­per Bowl ring with Ju­lian Edel­man and a bunch of guys named Who’s That? as re­ceivers, then here’s a QB that can ob­vi­ously beat any­body, any­where, any­time. Jhab­vala: Brady is de­fy­ing the hu­man aging process. But he doesn’t play well in Den­ver (2-7 in­clud­ing play­offs), and he’ll be fac­ing the Bron­cos on a short week, fol­low­ing the Pa­tri­ots’ Mon­day night win over the Ravens. Throw in the loss of Rob Gronkowski and the Bron­cos have as good a shot as they’ll ever have at con­tain­ing New Eng­land’s of­fense.

Kiz: The Bron­cos beat Brady not once, but twice, last sea­son, al­low­ing Brady to com­plete only 51 per­cent of his 98 passes, sack­ing him seven times, in­ter­cept­ing him twice and hold­ing his QB rat­ing to 74.8, which is Pax­ton Lynch ter­ri­tory. This time the edge should be­long to Brady, right? But the Pa­tri­ots will travel af­ter play­ing on Mon­day, and that short work week should ben­e­fit Den­ver. If my man Talib and his bud­dies can pick off Brady two times, I give the Bron­cos bet­ter than a 50-50 chance to win.

Jhab­vala: His bud­dies be­ing Von Miller and the de­fen­sive line. Last year, the Bron­cos’ de­fense had those seven sacks plus 26 hits on Brady in their two meet­ings com­bined. In the AFC cham­pi­onship, when the Bron­cos hit him 20 times, Brady faced pres­sure on more than 45 per­cent of his 61 drop­backs, ac­cord­ing to Pro Foot­ball Fo­cus. With an un­re­li­able of­fense, that pres­sure from the Bron­cos’ de­fense will again be cru­cial.

Mad­die Meyer, Getty Images

Pa­tri­ots QB Tom Brady, yelling as he runs onto the field be­fore Mon­day night’s 3023 win over the Ravens, faces the Bron­cos on Sun­day.

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