The big guns visit the Mile High this week. That’s right. The New England Patriots return to Denver for the first time since their three point loss to the Broncos in 2009.
The Patriots sit at a deadly 10-3 right now, so I wanted to find out more about the powerhouse from the north east. That’s why I asked editor Jamie Pacheco of Musket Fire some questions about the team that has arguably the most deadly offense in the league.
Let’s go Inside the Villain’s Venue with Musket Fire.
Q: The Patriots are ranked dead last defending the pass. Against the 31st ranked Vikings, Tim Tebow threw for over 200 yards and 2 TDs. Do you think the Patriots can stop the Broncos passing game?
A: I don’t think the Patriots can stop a high school passing game at this point. The Patriots are on-pace to have an epically bad passing defense, and it doesn’t seem to matter who is playing quarterback. Dan Orlovsky passed for 353 yards and Vince Young, not exactly known for his passing ability, passed for 400 yards.Unfortunately (for Patriots fans), I wouldn’t be surprised if Tebow passed for 300 yards.
Q: Tom Brady has only been sacked 22 times this year, but are the Patriots concerned about the pass rushing duo of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller? How is your offensive line holding up?
A: The Patriots absolutely have to be concerned about Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Sacks don’t tell the whole story, as Brady has been pressured a lot this season. When he is pressured, he is not as accurate, so the key will be to at least get pressure on him and force a bad throw. The offensive line has had its share of injuries, starting four different players at center and a rookie for the majority of the season at right tackle. Despite that, they have held up fairly well, though they could stand to improve their push in the running game.
Q: The last time these two teams met (2009), the Broncos escaped with a 3-point victory. This is a much different team, but do you think Belichick and Co. are extra pumped to go back to Denver for revenge?
A: I think that Belichick and Co. are just worried about playing in a tough environment against a good team and leaving with a win. Last time, Josh McDaniels was head coach and the Broncos were, as you mentioned, a different team. I don’t think revenge is on their minds, just winning.
Q: Rob Gronkowski is the biggest scoring threat out there. Why is he so tough to stop and how have teams slowed him in the past?
A: I’m not sure Gronkowski has really been “slowed” since he became a large part of the Patriots offense. Having a good pass rush and forcing the Patriots to keep him in as a blocker would probably be the best way to limit his opportunities. Von Miller has good size and speed, so he is someone who could possibly match up with Gronk in coverage. The problem with Gronkowski is that he has tremendous size (6’6) and runs and catches very well. He’s usually too big for corners and too quick for linebackers. He’s definitely a matchup issue for teams.
Q: Finally, what’s your prediction for the game on Sunday?
A: The key matchup for this game is the Patriot offense vs the Bronco defense. If the Pats can put up points like the Vikings did, I don’t think Tim Tebow can keep up because Tom Brady can do more than Christian Ponder, one would think. However, if the Broncos can slow down Brady enough to keep it close, Tebow WILL pull out another late victory because the Patriot defense has not shown the ability to shut the door late against talented players. That being said, I think the Patriots can put up enough points to come away with a win, 34-24.
Thank you to Jamie for taking the time out to answer these questions.