DENVER — Taylor Best walked down the 16th Street Mall drawing quite a bit of attention Saturday. She was wearing a red-white-and-blue feathered boa that clearly signified her allegiance.

Still, she didn’t get much grief from the locals, many clad in Denver Broncos jerseys.

“They’re being pretty good,” said Best, a New England Patriots fan who is in Denver with her mother, Vicki. They live in Topsfield, Massachusetts, but have a beach house in Ogunquit. “They’ve only been making some jokes about (the boa).”

Mother and daughter, who had scheduled a ski vacation here weeks ago, will go to Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday to see if they can buy tickets for the AFC championship game between the Patriots and Broncos. The winning team heads to Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7.

“Either way,” Vicki Best said of their ticket search, “it’s fun to be here.”

The Broncos beat the Patriots during the regular season and are the AFC’s top seed. But the Patriots are three-point favorites in Sunday’s game. That’s OK with Denver fans.

“When we’re underdogs, we always win,” said Kenya Sande, a Denver resident and Broncos season ticket holder.

“I think it gets a little more fight in you when you’re the underdog,” added Agnes Wolicki of Denver.

From left, Kenya Sande, a season ticket holder from Denver, is joined by fellow Broncos fans Ron Privratsky and Kay Privratsky at a downtown rally Friday. Sande was predicting a victory for the home team, saying: “When we’re underdogs, we always win.”

From left, Kenya Sande, a season ticket holder from Denver, is joined by fellow Broncos fans Ron Privratsky and Kay Privratsky at a downtown rally Friday. Sande was predicting a victory for the home team, saying: “When we’re underdogs, we always win.” Mike Lowe/Staff Writer

Electronic signs on the highway leading from the airport to the city’s downtown aren’t telling you the road conditions or speed limits these days. Instead, they simply say, “Go Broncos.”

Stores are adorned in orange and blue. Lampposts are decorated with orange and blue bows.

Even the panhandlers on the 16th Street Mall – a street closed to traffic – are hopeful. One held up a cardboard sign saying, “Will Kidnap Tom Brady for $. Go Broncos.” Asked how he was doing at noontime, he said, “I got $10 already.”

Patriots fans were slowly coming out on Saturday. Many arrived Friday night from New England, but also from Florida, Dallas, California, New York City, Maryland and even Newfoundland.

Among those who arrived late Friday were Linda Cohen, a South Portland city councilor and former mayor, and her daughter, April Cohen. They will make quite an impression when they arrive at the stadium on Sunday. Linda Cohen will be wearing a Rob Gronkowski jersey and April will wear her Peyton Manning jersey.

Not that April is necessarily a Broncos fan. “I’ve been following Peyton Manning since (he attended the University of) Tennessee,” she said. “I’ve followed his career in Indianapolis and now Denver.

“I do like the Patriots. But whenever they play Peyton Manning, I root for him.”

Those who arrived early enough on Friday were able to attend a downtown rally held for the Broncos at Larimer Square. Thousands showed up to celebrate. The rally included Thunder (the Broncos real-life horse mascot), Broncos cheerleaders (the most popular attraction), former players and the two Super Bowl trophies won by the franchise. There was music, there was dancing – and there was one Patriots fan strutting around with a white No. 12 Tom Brady jersey.

He was followed closely by a group of five Broncos fans who booed his every step. He didn’t stay very long.

Others, such as Jon Kincaid (wearing a blue Brady jersey) and Kevin McGarty (wearing a blue Gronkowski jersey), from Braintree, Massaschusetts, hung around.

“Yeah, as we were going to our hotel we saw the rally and I said, ‘We need to go put our Patriots jerseys on,'” said Kincaid. “It wasn’t bad.”

Tom Kennedy, a Patriots fan who grew up on Cape Cod but now lives in Miami, said it’s usually like that in Denver. “People here are very friendly,” he said. “Some towns, they’re not so friendly.”

Later Saturday night, Patriots fans got together for a loud party at Katie Mullen’s, a popular Irish pub. The party was put on by the Pikes Peak Pats fan club, an organization 300 strong in Colorado. according to Cody Neumann, the club’s vice-president and co-founder.

Elating those gathered, Patriots owner Robert Kraft came by and addressed the fans as they paraded last year’s Super Bowl trophy through the crowd.

Thunder, the Broncos’ real-life mascot, greets fans at a downtown rally Friday at Larimer Square in Denver. Mike Lowe/Staff Writer

Thunder, the Broncos’ real-life mascot, greets fans at a downtown rally Friday at Larimer Square in Denver.
Mike Lowe/Staff Writer

So how will the game turn out?

“Denver’s going to win,” said April Cohen. “Peyton Manning’s going to get a Super Bowl ring, then retire. I think it will be close.”

“Patriots win,” said Linda Cohen. “And I don’t think it’s going to be close.”

Tim Schuetz, a season ticket holder for the Broncos, said, “I think there’s going to be a Peyton (Manning) fourth-quarter drive to win it.”

And then there’s 11-year-old Jared Hurwitz, of Needham, Massachusetts, who was predicting a Patriots win. A victory would mark the Patriots’ seventh trip to the Super Bowl in 15 years.

“I was born in 2004,” he said. “I’m used to winning.”