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All five of them reached the end zone at least 10 times, too. No other team in the 93-year history of the league had more than three players score double digit TDs.

It’s a pick-your-poison proposition for opponents, who can’t double cover them all. Someone’s always singled up - if not wide open.

Like Julius Thomas was on third-and-17 against San Diego in the waning minutes. Manning ducked the pass rush and hit his big tight end for a 21-yard gain that helped the Broncos salt away the win, finally burying the demons of their loss to Baltimore.

Thomas, who didn’t play in the first matchup against the Patriots (13-4) because of a knee injury, finished with six catches for 76 yards, but none was longer - or bigger - than his 21-yarder.

Manning threw for just 150 yards on a blustery 22-degree night with winds of 22 mph at New England, when Bill Belichick drew up a game plan that dared the Broncos to run. They did, gaining 280 yards on the ground, including 224 from Moreno.

The Broncos not only have their big tight end back for the rematch, but they also have defensive end Jeremy Mincey, a castoff from Jacksonville who’s helped solidify their run defense over the last month. He will be asked to help keep Blount in check.

The Patriots are in unfamiliar territory as both underdogs and visitors. They’ve played their last nine AFC playoff games at home. Their last trip before this weekend came way back in the title game following the 2006 season - when Manning led the Colts to a 38-34 win over Brady’s Patriots.

PREDICTION: Broncos 45-31


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