The Broncos didn’t use punter Britton Colquitt last Sunday, which meant the speedy Eddie Royal had no chance to make a big play. Similarly, all of Denver’s kicks soared into the back of the end zone, which was more predictable, so Royal and Danny Woodhead totaled zero return yards.
Despite a missed field goal from the usually-reliable Matt Prater, Trindon Holliday and Eric Decker didn’t put the ball on the ground and were both effective in the return game, which means the Broncos won the special teams battled.
Supposedly, new addition Marquice Cole will see some time in kick coverage this week, which could prove to be a liability. What’s most important, however, is that Denver repeats last week’s s box scores: zero punts and zero kick return yards allowed.
If Prater can keep the ball away from LeGarrette Blount and Colquitt doesn’t have to punt to Julian Edelman, it means the Broncos have probably put themselves in a tremendous position to win the game.
Let’s see how the Patriots’ special teams match up:
Field goal kicker: Stephen Gostkowski
Gostkowski can kick it from pretty much anywhere. Besides having Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker on the field, this is the best possible field goal kicking match up in the entire league.
Punter: Ryan Allen
Allen isn’t as well known as previous Pats punters, but he’s been serviceable this year. Most important, New England’s punt coverage won them the first game between these two teams in November. They will be confident in their ability to make a play, and for good reason.
Colquitt is still the better punter though and Denver’s punt coverage has been solid throughout the year.
Punt returner: Julian Edelman
Edelman better be in shape this weekend, because he will be relied on heavily by both his quarterback and his special teams coach. Because Denver doesn’t have a go-to guy at this position, Edelman has a slight advantage seeing he’s been the Pats only guy all season.
Kick returner: LeGarrette Blount, Matthew Slater
Blount is on fire and Slater is a former Pro Bowler, but similar to last week the mile air will really eliminate the kick return game. The advantage still goes to Denver though. If Holliday is given a chance to return at all, he could make the play of the game.
Onto the game pick and, boy, doesn’t this feel like it’ll end in epic fashion?
Prediction: Broncos 30, Patriots 24 (F/OT) Let’s go to the Super Bowl, Bronco Country!