The Supporting cast of the AFC Championship Game

So with best supporting actors of the NFC Championship sorted out,  it’s now time to look at the AFC games support that make the game’s leading men shine.

Anyway, let’s start with…

Wes Welker (Broncos) – Cuba Gooding Jnr, Jerry Maguire

In Jerry Maguire, Cuba Gooding Jnr stars as the Wide Receiver looking for a big contract and is forced to put his faith in Jerry Maguire, who leaves is firm and promises to show Gooding the money!

This is actually more of a literal comparison. Welker is a slot Receiver who makes his money going over the middle, something that Cuba prides himself on in the film. Welker put his faith in hitting the open market to get a decent contract and Cuba did the same with Jerry Maguire. Finally Jerry Maguire was Cuba’s best performance and Welker could be set up for the same against his old playing partner Tom Brady.

Welker’s season has had its ups and downs. For the Patriots he was Mr Reliable, for the Broncos however he has been hit quite seriously by injuries. Most of the games he has missed have been predominantly down to concussions, which has to be a danger of the position and intensity that he plays.

When Welker has played however he has been his usual reliable self and looks set to be the safety blanket for Manning as he attempts to get the better of his old best buddy Tom Brady. Keep an eye on Welker going across the middle…don’t however expect anything nearing the dancing seen in the film.

LaGarrette Blount (Patriots) – Kevin Spacey, Usual Suspects

Spoilers for anyone that’s not seen this film. Throughout the film Kevin Spacey plays an underachieving hapless criminal who is brought in after all goes wrong to tell the police the story of what happens on a failed job. Spacey leads a great story of misdirection and leads the story to a surprise twist when we find out he is the mastermind behind all the events in the film.

LaGarrette Blount’s career was thought to be on the downward spiral after being dropped by the Bucs to favour Doug Martin. LaGarrette was picked up by the Pats, to what looked at the time like back up for Vereen and Ridley. What actually happened though was Blount reminded us that he had some serious moves for a 250 pound Running Back and pushed his way to the no. 1 back spot. Blount had us all fooled up until he surprised everyone by running all over the Colts last week in the Divisional Rounds.

Blount will need to have a better outing this week than an injured Ryan Matthews had last week against a surprisingly good Broncos run Defence. If they can break the run defence, they can take the pressure off a Tom Brady who has struggled with his young Receiver corps this week.

Aqib Talib (Patriots) – Tommy Lee Jones, Fugitive

In the Fugitive, Tommy Lee Jones is set with task of catching Harrison Ford, a man who was set up with the murder of his wife and escapes police custody. Jones refuses to give up throughout the entire film and chases him across country.

Much like LaGarrette Blount, Talib has had something of a renaissance since he joined the Patriots. On a patchwork Defence Talib has been one of few solid pieces that has kept them performing at a high level despite messing numerous key pieces. It might be a bit much to call him a shutdown corner, but is easily the most talented piece on the Patriots Defence in the absence of Spikes and Wilfork.

Talib will face no bigger challenge than in this game where he could be up against a number of top Receivers who all have one of the best Quarterbacks of all time throwing to him. Make no mistake. Talib is as important to the Patriots as any member of the Offence if the Patriots are to make the Super bowl.

Terrance Knighton (Broncos) – Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings Playbook was the surprise hit of last year’s Oscars, with Lawrence leading the way as the surprise cast member. Lawrence’s plays someone who has been on an emotional rollercoaster. She finds comfort in someone who has had similar issues and finds ways of making him a better person.

So what I wanted to stress here was how Knighton has been the surprise hit of the broncos Defence in the absence of a lot of Key players, Knighton has stepped up and been a massive hit in the run game.

In the last game Knighton was integral in stopping the Chargers run attack and forcing them to rely on Rivers through the air.

Knighton will have to bring his A game for this one and look to finding a way to slow down Blount. If they can force it into a shootout you have to think Manning has the upper hand.

And that’s it. Tomorrow I’ll be putting up my list of unsung heroes.