Roll out the red (and blue) carpet because Tom Brady and the Patriots (3-1) are coming to town. The storylines are endless with Yoda and Mc-Kid going head-to-head and the game itself being of Mile High importance. The Broncos look to stay undefeated on the season and look for revenge against the below the belt blow they took on Monday Night Football last October. The Pats won 41-7 with Josh McDaniels’ Matt Cassel led offense making the Broncos look like a high school J.V. team. The Broncos are a brand new team however, with a brand new defensive alignment that ranks 1st in the league in points allowed. The offense is poised when it needs to be, and can win games in pressure situations. As we know, the Pats are pass heavy with arguably the best QB in the league at the reins. The first AFL game in history took place 50 years ago with the Denver Broncos and the Boston Patriots playing eachother. That’s why the Broncos will be dressed in their yellow mustard and brown uniforms from their inaugural season. With national attention focused on this game, both teams feel the pressure to win. It should be one for the ages. My Prediction: Broncos 24 Patriots 17.
Broncos – This is the side of the ball that needs the most attention from the Broncos staff right now. It’s actually the passing game that needs the most attention. Correll Buckhalter might not play on Sunday due to a sprained ankle, so I foresee more attempts from Kyle Orton. Last week against the Cowboys, he had trouble connecting with his receivers in the first half. It’s not that the receivers weren’t open. It was that his arm looked stiff and he wasn’t able to make the accurate pass. You can bet McDaniels has been working on that aspect of his game. The Patriots have a solid pass and rush defense, so nothing is going to come easy for the Broncos. As I said last week, I would love to see Eddie Royal become more involved in the offense. He made such an impact last year, that it’s hard to see his performance decline. I realize he’s not a big physical receiver, and Orton can’t sling passes in traffic like Cutler could, but if Royal can run some of the inside routes, he’s good for 8-10 yard pass plays. If Buckhalter doesn’t play, Knowshon Moreno and former Pat, LaMont Jordan, will handle the carries.
Patriots- Offensively, the Pats aren’t ranked as high as the Cowboys are, but they’ve got an opposite strength in their passing game. Last week, the defense had to focus on stopping the run first and foremost. This week, it’s the pass. Randy Moss is easily leading the team in receptions while big tight end, Benjamin Watson, leads the team in TDs. One of my favorite guy to watch play is Wes Welker, and he’s the guy that will pick up first downs in clutch situations. He is the Broncos version of Brandon Stokley. A slot receiver who’s not always on the radar screen until he busts a big play. As we’ve come to learn, a lead in the 4th quarter is not safe when Tom Brady is under center. It doesn’t matter how bad of a game he’s played. If the game is on the line, he’s the one with the ball, and usually comes out on top. Now is not the time for the Broncos defense to gawk at this very talented offense. Running back Fred Taylor is undergoing surgery and will not play on Sunday.
Broncos – This Broncos secondary is special and I trust them to throw Brady off his game at certain points. They certainly threw Romo off his. The thing with Brady is he’s not a headcase. No matter how many times Champ Bailey knocks down a pass or Brian Dawkins puts a big hit on a receiver, the Pats’ pass will keep coming at you. Watching the Broncos defense go up against the Pats offense will be the most intriguing matchup of the game. The Broncos are only allowing 6.5 points and 163 passing yards per game. New England is averaging 22 points and 274 passing yards per game. The Broncos are leading the AFC in sacks (15) and turnovers (10). A big part of that comes from Elvis Dumervil’s move to outside linebacker. He has half the team’s sack total! D.J. Williams is leading the team in tackles, and five different players are getting in on the interception act. If there’s any defense in the league that can stop the Patriots right now, it’s this one.
Patriots- New England’s defense isn’t supposed to be as good as it is. They lost Rodney Harrison and Teddy Bruschi to retirement, Richard Seymour went to the dark side (Raiders), and Mike Vrabel went to Kansas City. The Pats are 11th in rush defense and 7th in pass defense. Without Buckhalter, the Broncos running game has their work cut out for them. The Pats have just one INT on the year, but they are very capable of breaking up the pass. Mike Wright is leading the team in sacks (3) and Brandon Meriweather is leading the team in total tackles (28). Hopefully, the Broncos defensive squad was able to mimic New England’s 3-4/4-3 combo this week in practice. They are a young, but physical group that hasn’t given up many big plays this year. If there’s one coach in the league that can break every part of their defense down, it’s coach McD.
Broncos – It would be nice to see the Broncos make the field shorter for their offense. We haven’t had any big run backs this season, and I think we’re due. It’s been frustrating to watch Eddie Royal dance around in the backfield. On the other side, the Broncos have been very good at covering kick returns. Making Brady work the entire field will be a major key to victory. Matt Prater and Bret Kern continue to do a great job with kicking and punting, respectively.
Patriots- Stephen Gostkowski leads the league in field goals made, and he’s very accurate. Laurence Maroney has been handling kick returns with a 23.1 yard average. Kevin Falk mostly handles punt returns with a 6.2 yard average. Nothing to write home about here, but this special teams unit is capable of trick plays. They tried a fake field goal against the Ravens, but had the whistle blown on an illegal formation.
Broncos – I wonder what kind of a handshake McD will get at the end of the game. Could we possibly see Bill Belichick express some form of emotion as he congratulates his pupil on a job well done? McD knows Belichick like the back of his own hand. This matchup is why the game is televised nationally. People want to see if the student can become the teacher.
Patriots- Belichick thinks very highly of McDaniels and the two still regularly talk on the phone. Don’t expect them to talk this week, though. Belichick and McD have a similar coaching style. Preparing your game plan, making tackles, limiting mistakes, and taking away the other team’s strength are the winning points that Belichick and McD have in common. McD learned them from Belichick, and so far, it’s working for both teams.
Tags: Benjamin Watson Bill Belichick Brandon Meriweather Brandon Stokley Bret Kerm Laurence Maroney Brian Dawkins Champ Bailey Correll Buckhalter D.j. Williams Denver Broncos Eddie Royal Elvis Dumervil Fred Taylor Josh Mcdaniels Kevin Falk Knowshon Moreno Kyle Orton Lamont Jordan Matt Prater Mike Vrabel Mike Wright New England Patriots Randy Moss Richard Seymour Rodney Harrison Stephen Gostkowski Teddy Bruschi Tom Brady Wes Welker