NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-2)
at DENVER BRONCOS (3-5)
Sports Authority Field Ė Denver, CO
Kickoff: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: New England -7.5, Total: 46.0
The Broncos will be attempting to get back on track with a Sunday night victory over the Patriots.
New England is rolling right now, as the team has now won four straight games and covered in three of them. The Patriots hosted a tough Chargers team before their Week 9 bye and won 21-13 as 6.5-point favorites in that one. Suddenly a defense that was lousy to begin the year has allowed just 12.75 PPG over the course of the teamís winning streak. If the Patriots are going to continue to play defense like that then they should have no trouble winning yet another Super Bowl. The Broncos, meanwhile, are struggling on both sides of the ball coming into this one. Over the past two games, Denver has given up a total of 80 points and the team has also scored just 52 over the past four games. That is a huge reason the team has lost four straight. They are not going to snap out of it unless they start putting up points. One thing that does bode well for Denver heading into this one is the fact that the team has gone 2-1 both SU and ATS in its past three home games against New England. The Patriotsí one win was, however, a 16-3 win-and-cover here in December of 2016. That was the most recent meeting between the two. New England also happens to be 14-4 ATS after allowing 17 points or fewer in four straight games under head coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots are going for their fifth straight win on Sunday and QB Tom Brady is going to need to be at this best in this one. Last year, Brady did not play well when he faced this Broncos team in Denver. He was just 16-for-32 for 188 yards with no touchdowns, but he didnít throw any picks either. The Pats won that game on the legs of the departed LeGarrette Blount and the strength of their defense, but theyíll need Brady to go out there and win this one for them here. Brady has been ridiculous this season, throwing for 2,541 yards with 16 touchdowns and only two picks. He has struggled against the Broncos defense in the past, but he has as good a chance as any to change that here. Denver is really not playing well right now, so Brady must take advantage. That would mean finding guys like TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Brandin Cooks as often as possible. WR Chris Hogan is out for New England, so that is one less red zone threat that Brady will have. He does, however, have plenty of other options when you factor in the running backs on this team. RBs Dion Lewis, James White and Rex Burkhead are all good receivers out of the backfield. Defensively, the Pats just need to focus on shutting down the running game. If they can do that then Denver will have absolutely no chance here. The Broncos have one of the worst quarterbacks in football under center in Brock Osweiler, so they are not a threat to really shred New England through the air.
As just mentioned, QB Brock Osweiler is currently under center for the Broncos. Osweiler took Trevor Siemianís job, but itís pretty hard to say why. Siemian was definitely underperforming for Denver, but he is still a far better option than Osweiler. Last week, Osweiler completed just 19-of-38 passes for 208 yards, one touchdown and two picks. He has consistently shown that he is not capable of playing at this level, but he still somehow finds himself starting games. Still, Osweiler is going to be out there on Sunday and that means the Broncos will need his best. Itís not clear exactly what that is, but he definitely needs to make sure he doesnít throw multiple picks. It really shouldnít be that hard, as he has some excellent targets in WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. The defense, however, is what will need to keep Denver in the game here. This unit has had success against the Patriots in the past and canít afford to let New England break through in this one. DE Von Miller is a player to watch here, as the team needs him to get pressure on Brady as much as possible. The linebackers on Denver must also be on high alert here, as the Broncos will need to make sure that Gronkowski is accounted for at all times.