We’ve seen it before, Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning, two future hall of famers duking it out to see who comes out on top. On Sunday when the Denver Broncos visit Gillette Stadium all eyes will certainly be on the offense. But don’t forget about the other side of the ball as that is likely where this game will be won. Here are three things the Patriots defense needs to do in order to give them the best chance.
1. Front Seven Needs to Stay Hot So far this season the Patriots front seven has been outstanding. Last week the defense did their job and forced six Buffalo turnovers and sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick three times. This week the front line will have to put pressure on Manning. Clearly Manning and Fitzpatrick are two very different quarterbacks and rattling Manning will be tough but they’ve got to turn up the heat. It is critical to collapse the pocket and make Manning work to find his targets. If they can do that mistakes are more likely to be made and the defense can get Brady back to work.
Devin McCourty needs to have another performance like last week to keep Peyton Manning off the field. (FILE:USPresswire)
2. Secondary Steps Up Last week Devin McCourty made a turn around and was playing like his rookie year again. He had two interceptions and there’s hope he actually isn’t as weak as we may have thought. Overall the Patriots secondary isn’t the fastest or the most physical, but when they work together, they are successful. What they need to do is continue to find a style that works for them and execute it flawlessly. Manning will take advantage of any weak link all night if given the chance. McCourty, Patrick Chung and Kyle Arrington need to play well and keep wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in check. They lead the team in receiving yards and we know Manning is more than capable of marching his team downfield quickly if need be.
3. Vince Wilfork stops Willis McGahee We’ve seen it before and I expect we will see it again on Sunday. Along with Kyle Love, Vince Wilfork will put a damper on the Bronco’s run game. McGahee is their leading rusher and rushed for 112 yards last week. There is no doubt that the Patriots can stop him just as they did with Chris Johnson. Wilfork needs to close up any holes that open up and stop the run game early. The defense needs to disrupt the Bronco’s plan and they can do so by taking away key parts of their offense.
With two elite quarterbacks at the helm, both of these offenses should be powerful enough to win. But just as Brady said in his press conference this week, it will take excellent play on both sides of the ball to be victorious. This game will not be won on offense alone and that is why the defense will be the key to the Patriots coming out on top.