The storylines could hardly be any more perfect as the Patriots prepare to battle the Broncos on Sunday for the AFC Championship: Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, Wes Welker against his old team, Brady revisiting the place of his first playoff defeat.

Oh, and the chance to head to the Super Bowl is the great reward.

"It would be as satisfying a victory as we have ever had to go into Denver and get the win," Brady told WEEI's Dennis & Callahan this morning.

Brady sounded excited to rally behind the uncommon underdog role again, seemingly years after the last time it's been the case. He pointed to the Pats' Week 16 thrashing of the Ravens as an example of when many believed the Pats would lose, and Bill Belichick made that clear during a meeting before the game. Players even referenced it after the game in the locker room.

"I know different times coach will make us aware of it," Brady said. "I know when we played Baltimore, no one picked us to win, and I'm sure nobody will pick us to win this week.

"We’ve had our backs against the wall for a while, really the whole season. We’ve lost players, and teams have really counted us out. We’ve got a bunch of underdogs on our team, and we’ll be underdogs again. We’ll see how that shakes out at the end of the week, but we’re as tough and physical as we’ve ever been. And we’re going to go out and play this game, and that’s a great challenge for us."

Brady's 10-0 playoff record was blemished with his first loss in Denver in the 2005 season, and that 27-13 defeat gave Mile High a house of horrors feel to it. Yet, the performance wasn't because of the building, the air or the hostile crowd as much as their own undoing. Brady knows that's what ultimately matters this week.