On Sunday, the Patriots will take on the Broncos at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado. The Patriots (11-2) are vying for the number one seed, while the Broncos (8-5) have lost three of their last five games and are in danger of missing the playoffs altogether. This AFC showdown will kick off at 4:25 PM. ET.
The Patriots are once again in the driver seat for the number one seed in the AFC and that means trouble for the rest of the league. If New England can secure the number one seed, the road to the Super Bowl will go through Foxborough and Gillette Stadium, where they’ve been nearly unbeatable over the Brady and Belichick era. But this week, the Patriots are the ones that need to worry. The road to the number one seed runs through Denver, and if history is any indicator, the Patriots are up against a tremendous challenge.Throughout his illustrious career, Brady has a winning record against just about every opponent. Even on the road, Brady has rarely struggled. But in Denver, Brady is only 2-7 all-time, including the playoffs. To say Denver has Brady’s number is an understatement. Against Brady and the Patriots, no other team dominates at home better than the Broncos.
For any team, playing against the Broncos in Denver is a tremendously challenge. Due to the altitude, Sports Authority Field is one of the few NFL stadiums with a true home field advantage. Denver’s defense is a ferocious unit, but they’ve definitely fallen off from last years pace. Specifically, their run defense. In 2015, the Broncos run defense ranked 3rd in the league according to NFL Stats. This season through 14 weeks, the Broncos rank 29th in the league according to NFL Stats. To describe that as a drop off is an understatement. That’s more like falling off the edge of the world.
Denver allows over 127 yards rushing per game. Last week against the Titans, the Broncos allowed 180 yards rushing on 42 carries. The Patriots rushing attack ranks 7th in the league according to NFL Stats. LeGarrette Blount continues to have a career year. His 14 rushing touchdowns leads the league. Last week against the number one rushing defense, Blount rushed for 72 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. He’s been the Patriots best back all season, and that will continue this week and into the playoffs.
Besides Blount, the Patriots have passing backs James White and Dion Lewis to spell Blount in the running game and in passing situations. The Patriots can create mismatches in the passing game by utilizing White and Lewis out of the back field as receivers, or motioning them out of the back field and lining them up at receiver. Denver’s passing defense ranks 1st in the league according to NFL Stats. The Patriots passing offense ranks 4th in the league according to NFL Stats. Expect the Patriots to really pound the ball with the rushing attack, and when they do pass the ball, look for Brady to utilize White and Lewis as receivers.
When the Patriots take the field in Denver, they will have to face their past demons. Denver still has a challenging defense and a history of success against Brady on this field. The Patriots are without Gronkowski for the rest of the season and Amendola for the rest of the regular season. Last week against the Ravens, the Patriots adapted nicely and their offense still has many weapons for Brady to utilize.
The biggest concern for the Patriots is their special teams. Last week, the Patriots committed two costly turnovers on special teams that resulted in 14 points for the Ravens. New England needs to solve their special team’s issues before another costly fumble derails their Super Bowl aspirations. It’s that serious of an issue.
Broncos Vs Patriots Betting Lines
The Patriots have rarely had success in Denver, but the circumstances this time around are different. The Patriots offense is extremely balanced. Not having Gronkowski as the focal point has allowed Brady to spread the ball around. Role players will continue to emerge this week and Denver will struggle to keep the Patriots offense in check. Expect the Patriots to come away with a solid road victory.
Play: Patriots -3 @ BetOnline.ag