DENVER - Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady says the AFC Championship Game against the Broncos will push his New England team, but he's confident it would not be an easy game for Denver either.
Planning, Brady said, will be the key to a victory.
"You try to figure out what you do well and figure out what they do well," he told reporters during a Thursday morning press conference.
Once the game begins, he says mental and physical toughness will be necessary. Just as several Broncos players predicted Wednesday, Brady predicted Sunday's game will be contested until the last minute.
The last meeting between the two teams was decided in overtime. The Patriots won that game 34-31.
"However the game ebbs and flows, we need to be ready to play sixty minutes," Brady said.
The two-time Super Bowl MVP also said of the Broncos, "This team is going to test us."
Broncos Linebacker Wesley Woodyard expressed similar reverence for the toughness of the Patriots in his statements Wednesday.
"These guys aren't going to go away," he said. "If they're down 30 points, they're going to play the same as if they're up 30 points."
-- Brady and Manning, mutual respect
In the two press conferences, quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning expressed mutual respect.
"He's a great player," Brady said of Manning, adding that the Broncos have "one of the best offenses in history."
Manning and the Denver offense set regular-season NFL records for passing touchdowns, 55; for total passing yards, 5,477; and toppled the Patriots record for points with a new high of 603.
"They've been playing great since opening day of the season," Brady said. "We've had to find our way a bit."
Although the Patriots lost several notable players -- like Wes Welker who came to Denver -- prior to the season and lost others to injury during the season, Manning commented on the steady reliability of Brady.
"The one thing that jumps out about Tom is his consistency. I feel that he's been a better player each year than the year before. That, to me, speaks to his work ethic in the offseason, his refusal to be complacent."
During the regular season, the New England team won 12 games - just one victory shy of Denver's 13-3 record. Of course, Sunday's rematch will be the end of the season for one of the quarterbacks.
When Welker was asked Wednesday which of the two quarterbacks was better, he answered: "They're great quarterbacks. They do a great job of keeping guys accountable and their leadership skills and everything else. If there's two guys you want quarterbacking your team, it’s a tossup between those two."