Patriots at Broncos in AFC Championship: Ten things to know

Pierce: Belichick is Manning's 'kryptonite' (0:45)

ESPN NFL analyst Antonio Pierce explains why Patriots coach Bill Belichick is the Peyton Manning's "kryptonite" and Skip Bayless makes the argument that the same could be said about the Broncos and Tom Brady. (0:45)

DENVER -- Ten things to know about the New England Patriots visiting the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday (CBS, 3:05 p.m. ET), via ESPN’s Stats & Information:

1. With a victory, the Patriots would advance to play in their ninth Super Bowl, which would set an NFL record. The Patriots are tied with the Cowboys and Steelers, who each went to eight Super Bowls. Furthermore, quarterback Tom Brady would advance to play in his seventh Super Bowl, which also would be a record. He currently is tied with Mike Lodish for the most Super Bowl games played, with six.

2. The combined age of Brady and Denver’s Peyton Manning is 28,603 days (78.4 years), which is the highest-ever combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a playoff game, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. The old record was 27,704 combined days (75.9 years), by John Elway and Dan Marino in the 1998 AFC divisional round. Lastly, this will be the fifth meeting between Brady and Manning in the playoffs, which is the most by any two quarterbacks in NFL history. Brady leads the overall series, 11-5.

3. Brady is 6-8 in his career against the Broncos (including playoffs), making them the only team against whom Brady has a losing record. He’s 0-2 on the road against them in the postseason, which includes the 2013 AFC Championship Game against Manning.

4. If the Patriots win, it will be Bill Belichick’s seventh AFC championship as head coach, breaking a tie with Don Shula for the most conference titles by a coach in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

5. Manning is playing more under center upon his return from a foot injury. He was under center for 36 snaps last Sunday against the Steelers, which was eight more than in any other game this season. The Broncos have run the ball by design on 50.5 percent of plays in the past two games with Manning; they had done so 36.5 percent of the plays with Manning during his first nine games this season.

6. The Broncos rushed for 179 yards against the Patriots in Week 12, which was the highest total given up by New England this season. All three of Denver’s rushing touchdowns came outside of the tackles; the Patriots gave up 90 rushing yards outside the tackles, which was the most they had allowed in a game over the past two seasons. Specifically, players spoke of defending the crack toss, when receivers block down to the inside part of the field.

7. Brady was timed getting rid of the ball in an average of 2.13 seconds in the divisional round against the Chiefs, which was especially quick and reflected how the offense was back in rhythm with the return of receiver Julian Edelman. Brady's average time before pass is considerably shorter when Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski are on the field; when both are on the field, it’s an average of 2.14 seconds. When either Edelman or Gronkowski are off the field, it spikes to 2.39.

8. In Sunday's win over the Steelers, Manning completed five of his 11 passes more than 10 yards downfield. His completion percentage has decreased on those throws in each of the past four seasons -- 56.7 percent in 2012; 53.1 percent in 2013; 50 percent in 2014 and 43.2 percent in 2015.

9. Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas has a team-record 50 postseason receptions and has six touchdowns in his career; he needs one touchdown catch and 122 more receiving yards to pass Rod Smith for the most in Broncos playoff history (both categories). Thomas struggled in the Nov. 29 game against the Patriots, finishing with one catch for 36 yards on 13 targets. As a result, that was one of Logan Ryan’s best games of the season at cornerback.

10. The Broncos led the NFL in sacks (52) during the regular season, while the Patriots ranked second (49). ESPN research notes that 35 of the Patriots’ 49 sacks came on the standard four-man rush. The 49 sacks are the most for the Patriots under Bill Belichick (2000-present).