Spoiler Alert, Championship Sunday: Peyton Manning's farewell?

Quick thought on the weather and how it might affect -- and maybe already has affected -- Championship Sunday:

If you've been paying any attention this week, you know most everyone under the meager winter sun is picking the Patriots to win in Denver. There are, however, a few brave souls pointing to an upset by Team Peyton. Those predictions are based largely on the fact that the game will played at Mile High, where 1) Tom Brady is 2-6 lifetime, and 2) the Broncos -- like any other home team -- are more formidable. If the game were being played in Foxborough -- where the Sunday forecast calls for potential snow and a temperature in the 30s -- even the bravest Broncos believer would be feeling the cold chill of the Sheriff's grim reality in freezing conditions.

As it is, the Broncos get to host this one thanks to their late-November victory over the previously undefeated Patriots in the same stadium. As you'll recall, that win was authored by one Brock Osweiler, then making his second of seven starts (that also included another playoff-seed-defining win against Cincy). You might also recall the post-Thanksgiving victory over the Pats was played in the snow and without key pieces who will be on the field this Sunday: DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, Sylvester Williams, Louis Vasquez, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski and Jamie Collins were either injured prior to or during the game. It goes without saying the game would've looked very different with all those aforementioned names healthy and available ... but to suggest the result would've changed is purely speculative. Fortunately, I am to reckless speculation what Sean Penn is to tracking notorious escaped felons.

It says here the Patriots would've won with Edelman & Gronk & Amendola-the-punt-returner (remember, Danny's replacement in that role fumbled a punt with New England up 14 points in the second half). As significant as any other absence, though, was that of the guy in a walking boot that night, the future first-ballot Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. In his stead, Osweiler made just enough big throws in the inclement conditions to help his team survive the night.

Should Denver lose Sunday, the debate about whether Gary Kubiak should've stuck with Osweiler will resume. In the meantime, though, it seems clear Peyton and the Broncos owe the tall kid with the headset and clipboard a debt of thanks for letting them sleep in their own beds on the eve of the AFC title game.

Oh, and let's hope they don't shovel a single snowflake in Charlotte before the game. Snow equals fun.

Let's get to the games.

WARNING: Do NOT continue reading if you don't want to know the outcomes of the two title games.

(3-1 last week, 166-98 on the season)


BRONCOS 17
PATS 26

DEN D: 2 sacks, 0 takeaways
J. Edelman: 9 rec, 115 yds, TD


CARDS 23
PANTHERS 27

D. Johnson: 40 rush yds
C. Newton: 90 rush yds, TD


Enjoy Championship Sunday, everybody! I hope your team wins.

Follow Dave Dameshek on Twitter @Dameshek.

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