The Patriots will play in the 10th AFC Championship game of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era. The obvious stakes here are the Patriots would advance to their NFL record 9th Super Bowl with a victory and Tom Brady making his NFL record 7th start. However, for Tom Brady this Super Bowl could wind up being more special than the previous 6. Over his entire career, the one city Brady never got to play in was San Francisco. The one year the Patriots traveled to Candlestick Park, Brady was on IR with a torn ACL and MCL suffered in the first quarter of the first game of the regular season. Even though Brady never played a regular season or postseason game at Candlestick, where he grew up watching the 49ers dynasty of the 80s-90s, winning a Super Bowl in the 49ers stadium would mean a lot for his career.
We know that Brady has a laundry list of reasons for wanting to get to this game in addition to being where he grew up and where he got his start in football. After getting his name dragged through the mud and having to fight the NFL in court to overturn a 4-game suspension because of the NFL's corruption and incompetence, winning the Super Bowl would be the perfect way to close that season. I could care less if Brady wins the NFL MVP award or not, since football is a team game and it takes 11 guys doing their job in order for the offense to get the job done. Only the best teams get recognized every year and for Brady, the only that matters is championships.
In terms of championships, the 5th Super Bowl win would give him the most of All-Time, tying with Charles Haley and breaking the record for Quarterbacks, held by childhood idol Joe Montana. Another significance to the number 5 is the number of championships that 49er dynasty that Brady grew up watching won, a number he would certainly like to match. Tom Brady is in the discussion for greatest QB of all time, all that's left for him to do is end the debate and make himself the clear Number One. No QB has won more games than Tom Brady, who's won 77% of his career starts and is 22-8 in the postseason.
Of course, in order to get there Brady and the Patriots will have to defeat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. It's only fitting that Peyton is in the way, given that Peyton was always Brady's rival when both players were at their prime. The media is going to hype up the QB matchup, even though I believe the game will be won in the trenches. The Patriots have lost two AFCCG appearances to a team quarterbacked by Peyton Manning and the game will be in Denver. Denver has not been a friendly place for the Patriots, who have lost playoff games there in the 2005 Divisional Round and the 2013 AFC Championship Game. When you couple those two together, that certainly would fuel the Patriots QB to right the ship and put an end to the Brady and Manning debate FOREVER if it hasn't been done so already.
I believe that this postseason will be Tom Brady exorcising any past "demons" on his quest to be the best. In the first postseason game, the Patriots faced the Kansas City Chiefs who had beaten the Patriots to a pulp and prematurely started talk about Brady and the Patriots demise. On Saturday, Brady sliced up the Chiefs secondary the way we're accustomed to seeing with the Patriots starting off with an opening drive TD and never once trailing in the game. We'll see if Brady exorcises the Manning playoff demon, having not defeated either Peyton or Eli in a postseason game since January 2005. Might as well get that one out of the way as well.